Interview with Professor Tuong Vu on the Vietnamese Communist Party: War Legacies and Future Prospects
Ninety-four years ago, on Feb. 3, 1930, the Vietnamese Communist Party (VCP) was founded. The party took Vietnam into three
On July 26, 2023, the Human Rights Measurement Initiative (HRMI) - a non-profit organization - unveiled its annual analysis of the global state of human rights. Employing the Social and Economic Rights Fulfillment (SERF) Index, HRMI assessed each country's performance and assigned numerical scores for three main categories: Quality of Life, Safety from the State, and Empowerment.
Consistent with previous reports, HRMI's latest findings on Vietnam's human rights performance show a troubling similarity to the previous year. This year's report continues to paint a bleak picture of the human rights situation in Vietnam, while the country only achieved minimal improvements.
HRMI’s data suggests that Vietnam is faring “better than average” when compared to other East Asian and Pacific countries. These statistics mirror the findings recorded in 2022. While there was a slight drop in the country’s scores in terms of health, housing, and work, all three remain relatively high; the values for health and housing hover just above 90%, while the percentage for work remains strong at 94.2%. Complete statistics for access to proper education remain incomplete due to a lack of metrics regarding access to secondary education.
However, HRMI also notes that many groups of Vietnamese citizens still do not have proper access to, or are unable to enjoy fully, the benefits of these rights. These include indigenous people, people of particular ethnicities, people with low social or economic status, human rights advocates, people in particular geographic locations, and people with particular political affiliations or beliefs.
Regarding Safety from the State, Vietnam scores an overall 4.9/10, indicating a severe deficit in terms of protection and security for its citizens from potential abuses or violations by the government or state authorities. In HRMI’s 2022 Index, the country scored slightly higher at 5.3/10.
Vietnam’s freedom from extrajudicial execution scores the best out of all the metrics in this category. It is currently ranked as fair with a score of 6.3/10. The remaining four areas are freedom from forced disappearances, the death penalty, torture and ill-treatment, and arbitrary arrest, which were all classified as bad.
It remains unsurprising that the groups most at risk in this category include people with particular political affiliations or beliefs, human rights advocates, people with particular religious beliefs or practices, people who protest or engage in nonviolent political activism, people suspected of political violence, members of labor unions, worker rights advocates, indigenous people, and journalists.
While HRMI does not have enough data on countries in the East Asia and Pacific regions to make a regional comparison, they state that Vietnam is performing “worse than average” when compared to other countries in their Index.
HRMI adds a new metric in Empowerment – the right to religion and belief – in which Vietnam scores 3.1/10, giving it a very low classification. The rights to assembly and association, opinion and expression, and participation in government also fall under this ranking, with scores of 3.0/10 in both the first two metrics and 2.5/10 in government participation. This leaves the country with a disappointing overall score of 2.7/10. According to HRMI, these numbers indicate that many people in Vietnam cannot enjoy their civil liberties and political freedoms.
Information regarding the civil and political rights of the East Asia and Pacific region remains incomplete. Regardless, HRMI still states that Vietnam is performing “worse than average” compared to other countries in their Index regarding empowerment rights.
The groups most at risk for having these rights violated include but are not limited to, all Vietnamese citizens, human rights advocates, people who protest or engage in non-violent political activity, people with particular political affiliations or beliefs, journalists, members of labor unions, worker rights advocates, and people with particular religious beliefs or practices.
Legal Initiatives for Vietnam (LIV) co-director Trinh Huu Long currently serves as one of HRMI’s local ambassadors. During HRMI’s Civil and Political Rights 2023 Data Launch, he spoke on Vietnam's overall human rights situation. He also provided commentary on the downward trend of empowerment and the lack of press freedom in the country. During his interview, he observed that Vietnam’s human rights situation has been worsening since 2000 and that the government has been slowly chipping away at the few freedoms afforded to its citizens. He also mentions that Vietnam is ranked third lowest in the Reporters Without Borders’ (RSF) Word Press Freedom Index, just right after North Korea and China.
Regarding Vietnam's deteriorating human rights situation, he points out, "We have hundreds of journalists and bloggers and Facebook users being either harassed or prosecuted or who are serving time in jail now." The Vietnamese government's actions have led to widespread repression of the rights to free expression and freedom of speech, impacting journalists, activists, and anyone who dares to voice criticism or dissent against the ruling Vietnamese Communist Party.
The data and information collected by HRMI and other organizations will remain openly accessible to everyone, providing a crucial source of evidence that can be used to advocate for positive change and to hold the Vietnamese government accountable for its actions. Even if state-run media tries to dictate the prevailing narrative, factual data will remain an indisputable record of the human rights situation in Vietnam. In due time, perhaps the efforts of HRMI, its partners, and its local ambassadors can aid in the country’s shift towards a more free and democratic society.
HRMI’s human rights tracker can be accessed here.
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