Vietnam Seeks Reelection at UN Human Rights Council Despite Widespread Rights Violations

Vietnam Seeks Reelection at UN Human Rights Council Despite Widespread Rights Violations

Vietnam Runs for Human Rights Council Reelection Despite Numerous Rights Violations and Restricted Civic Space

Minister of Foreign Affairs Bui Thanh Son has declared Vietnam’s intention to seek reelection to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) for the 2026-2028 term, state media reported.

Speaking at the UNHRC’s 55th session in Geneva on Feb. 26, Minister Son also called on other countries to support Vietnam’s membership in the council, saying that if reelected, the country will focus on priorities such as “protecting vulnerable groups, promoting gender equality, embracing digital transformation, and upholding human rights.”

Bui Thanh Son also called on the UNHRC to promote the implementation of Vietnam’s proposed Resolution 52/19, which urges other countries to “develop mutual respect, understanding, tolerance, inclusiveness, unity, and appreciation of differences, dialogue, and cooperation.”

The minister pointed out that the country’s growing economy and its falling poverty rates as the most noticeable achievements in the safeguarding of human rights, adding that Vietnam exported over eight million tons of rice last year, which “contributes to ensuring food security and food rights for millions of people in many regions of the world.”

Despite Bui’s claims, Vietnam ranks poorly in every chart that measures civil and political rights, press freedom, and freedom of expression worldwide.

In a report published in December 2023, CIVICUS, a nonprofit group that monitors global civil society, ranked Vietnam as one of eight Asian countries and territories with closed civil spaces, meaning the state does not respect the basic freedoms of speech, assembly, and association. In another annual report published by Human Rights Watch (HRW), a New York-based rights watchdog, Vietnam was accused of suppressing the people’s rights “to freedom of expression, association, peaceful assembly, movement, and religion.”

Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at HRW, believed that it was laughable that the Vietnamese government equated delivering economic growth with fulfilling its human rights obligations. Robertson added that Vietnamese citizens face police harassment and surveillance if they criticize the Hanoi regime’s numerous rights violations. HRW report also stated that Vietnam currently detained more than 160 people for peacefully exercising their civil and political rights.

Civil Society Groups Petition the Release of Vietnamese Activist Nguyen Thuy Hanh

Three civil society organizations and 38 individuals in Vietnam on Feb. 26 published a petition calling on the authorities to release activist Nguyen Thuy Hanh, 61, and allow her to receive proper medical treatment for her cervical cancer. These organizations include the Civil Society Forum, the Bauxite Vietnam Forum and environmental group, and the pro-democracy Lê Hiếu Đằng Club.

The petition, addressed to Vietnamese President Vo Van Thuong, described the alarming health situation of Nguyen Thuy Hanh, a founder of the 50K Fund, established to support Vietnamese prisoners of conscience and their families. Last January, Hanh was diagnosed with mid-stage cervical cancer while receiving compulsory treatment at the Central Institute of Forensic Psychiatry. Although Hanh has not been convicted, she is forced to stay at the mental hospital involuntarily without a medical prognosis on her mental health, a de facto imprisonment, against her will.

The signatories of the petition wrote that the detention of Hanh, despite her severe illness and old age, is both “illegal and inhumane.” They urged the Vietnamese authorities to “immediately free” her so she could seek proper treatment for her cancer.

Huynh Ngoc Chenh, Hanh’s husband, said she had undergone 10 radiation treatments and two chemotherapy treatments at the K Hospital in Hanoi as of Feb. 19 and that she still needs to attend another three weeks of radiation and chemotherapy sessions to finish her treatment plan. Chenh wrote that Hanh felt exhausted after each round of chemotherapy, which made it difficult for her to breathe. He added that Hanh needed her sister to take care of her, but the sister was unable to go to the forensic mental hospital where Hanh is receiving forced treatment for depression and could only care for Hanh at the K Hospital,

Ho Chi Minh City Unveils Software to Monitor, Collect and Analyze Social Media Users’ Data

The Ho Chi Minh City Department of Information and Communications announced on Feb. 27 that it had developed a special software to collect and analyze user data from major social media platforms in Vietnam, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. The software will help city authorities to have “a complete and multi-dimensional information about public opinions, emotions and trends on the online sphere,” state media reported.

Lam Dinh Thang, director of the communications department, said that this surveillance tool, called SocialBeat, integrates artificial intelligence and machine learning technology to analyze data from social networks by different categories, including discussion topics and the commentators' location. The software identifies the opinions and emotions of the community and divides them into positive, neutral, and negative sections.

Most importantly, according to Thang, SocialBeat provides the authorities with mass online information which helps them shape public opinion based on analyzing the data gathered from social media users in the city. This tool also tracks “the development of hostile, sabotaging groups,” a term the Vietnamese government uses to describe dissidents and critics of the Communist regime who “take advantage of social networks and the Internet to incite opposition against the Vietnamese government and its policies.”

The adoption and utilization of this surveillance software illustrate Vietnam’s attempts to assert control over its citizens' online activities and align with China's digital surveillance model. Vietnam’s state media reported that this software will be available for all city departments and party offices, each assigned with a separate account for their exclusive usage.

Vietnam Insight: Learn more about Vietnam

Why Vietnam’s Escalating Anti-Corruption Campaign Might Backfire

The Diplomat/ Mai Truong/ Feb. 26

“One significant implication of stimulating citizens’ interest in corruption is that it may extend to other issues the regime aims to conceal while also fostering a general curiosity about politics among the populace. Once this curiosity is sparked, it becomes difficult for the government to contain or predict its trajectory. As citizens become more engaged in uncovering or discussing corruption, they may develop a heightened awareness of governmental activities and start questioning other aspects of governance, potentially leading to unforeseen consequences for the regime. As corruption becomes a dominant topic of discussion, it can fuel discontent and challenge the narrative of the Party’s legitimacy.”

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