|Caitlin Wiesen, UNDP Country Director in Viet Nam.
Human Rights Watch in January released its World Report 2019 which says Vietnam’s human rights record worsened in 2018 as it continued to violate fundamental civil and political rights such as freedom of expression, freedom of press and access to information, freedom of association and assembly, and freedom of religion.
Distorted accusation about Vietnam’s human rights record
HRW’s World Report 2019 does not serve human rights development in Vietnam. World organizations, including the United Nations, have acknowledged human rights progress in Vietnam.
The UNDP reported in October, 2018 that “Vietnam has been making good progress in human development and multidimensional poverty reduction but challenges remain in reducing disparities at sub-national levels, and among population groups, in closing gender gaps, as well as addressing environmental problems related to carbon dioxide emission and biodiversity.”
Caitlin Wiesen, UNDP Country Director in Vietnam, said “Vietnam can be proud of its remarkable progress in reducing multi-dimensional poverty, lifting 6 million people out of poverty in only 4 years between 2012 and 2016.”
She said Vietnam is doing well in health and education dimensions. Vietnam’s life expectancy at birth is 76.5 years, second in the Asia and the Pacific region, after the Republic of Korea. Mean years of schooling is 8.2, higher than the average of the East Asia and Pacific region.
The UNDP official acknowledged Vietnam’s clear and consistent mechanisms to implement recommendations of the Universal Periodic Review and Vietnam’s approval of UN conventions on human rights, including the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities in 2014.
Scott Ciment, UNDP’s Rule of Law Policy Advisor in Vietnam, said Vietnam joined 7 out of 9 international conventions on human rights.
Recent changes to Vietnam’s Penal Code, the Civil Code, and other laws are important steps toward progress. Ciment said Vietnam has recorded proud achievements in human rights. International cooperative activities on human rights have been enhanced, which demonstrates Vietnam’s determination and seriousness about implementing and guaranteeing human rights for its citizens.
Assessments by other organizations have overshadowed the HRW’s smears on human rights in Vietnam.
Human rights achievements support Vietnam’s global integration
Tom Malinowski, former Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, said Vietnam has made progress in human rights, including ratifying the Convention against Torture and the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities.
It’s ridiculous that in its World Report 2019, the HRW has called on the European Council to suspend ratification of the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement until the Vietnamese government takes steps to improve its human rights record.
Vietnam has integrated deeply into the global economy and made outstanding achievements. Obviously it is an attractive destination for investors. The HRW’s distorted arguments to urge other countries to put pressure on Vietnam and interfere with Vietnam’s external affairs have an unjust effect because human right progress in Vietnam is undeniable.