The Human Rights Measurement Initiative (HRMI), in its attempt to make information about the state of human rights more accessible to the general public, has collected and published data on several countries and analyzed their performance. This information is analyzed using the Social and Economic Rights Fulfillment (SERF) Index and each country is given a numerical score under 3 main categories: Quality of Life, Safety from the State, and Empowerment.
Its data on Vietnam is scrutinized through the same lens and regrettably, the country’s scores are both expected and somewhat disheartening.
Quality of Life
HRMI’s data suggests that Vietnam is performing “better than average” when compared to other countries in the region. The country’s access to proper healthcare, housing, and work score over 90 percent while food security hovers at around 71.9 percent. However, it is important to note that HRMI’s data on education in Vietnam remains incomplete; they currently lack metrics regarding access to secondary education.
Nevertheless, HRMI also notes that there remains a sizable portion of Vietnamese citizens who do not have access to proper education, food, health, housing, or work. These people-at-risk include those living in poverty, the homeless, indigenous people, people with disabilities, and human rights advocates.
Safety from the State
Regarding citizens protection from abuse or mistreatment by their country or government, Vietnam nets a disappointing 5.3/10. Its scores regarding freedom from forced disappearance and extrajudicial execution are only given a fair ranking at 6.9/10 and 6.8/10 respectively. The country’s metrics on freedom from arbitrary arrest, death penalty, and torture and ill-treatment are all classified as bad, with scores of 4.0/10, 4.7/10, and 4.1/10 respectively.
HRMI states that while it does not have enough information on countries in East Asia and the Pacific to do a thorough regional comparison, Vietnam’s numbers indicate that many people living there are not safe from these five threats to their human rights.Vietnam, when compared to the 39 other countries in HRMI’s sample size, is performing “worse than average” on being safe from the state.
Given Vietnam’s authoritarian tendencies, it comes as no surprise that the people most-at-risk in this category include: human rights advocates, people with particular or differing political affiliations or beliefs, those who protest or participate in non-violent political activity, and detainees or those who are accused of committing a crime.
In the category of Empowerment, which specifically refers to the right to assembly and association, the right to opinion and expression, and the right to participate in government, Vietnam scores a depressing 3.0/10. The county’s metrics in all three human rights are classified as very bad at 2.9/10, 2.9/10, and 3.1/10 respectively. According to HRMI, these numbers indicate that “many people [living in Vietnam] are not enjoying their civil liberties and political freedoms.”
As with the previous category, HRMI admits tha, as of the moment they do not have enough information on the East Asia and Pacific region to do a more in-depth comparison. However, it stated that if Vietnam is compared to the 37 other countries in their sample size, it performs worse than average on empowerment rights.
According to HRMI, the people-at-risk in this category include: all people living in Vietnam, human rights advocates, journalists, people who protest or engage in non-violent political activity, and people with particular political affiliations or beliefs.
Even though HRMI’s data remains incomplete in certain aspects, as seen in its lack of information for several countries and missing metrics regarding Vietnam’s secondary education, the data it does have available provides a clear understanding of the state of human rights in Vietnam.
While the county’s quality of life is commendable, this quality is not universally available to everyone. Added to this, the data clearly indicates that the proper observation of human rights, especially in the department of freedom of expression, association, and protection from the state, is met with impunity. All this is highlighted by the continued mistreatment and abuse faced by similar groups of people across all three categories, namely human rights defenders, advocates, those with divergent political beliefs, and basically anyone who does not adhere to or agree with the actions of the Vietnamese government.
As HRMI continues to access new information and add to its database, the already sullied image of Vietnam will become worse and worse when compared to neighboring countries in the region as the extent of the abuses committed by the Vietnamese Communist Party will be even more accessible to a wider range of people all over the world.
The HRMI’s human rights tracker can be accessed here.