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Vietphái nam did little lớn improve its abysmal human rights record in 2019. The government continues to lớn restrict all basic civil và political rights, including freedom of expression, association, assembly, and the rights to freely practice beliefs and religion. It prohibits the formation & operation of any organization or group deemed threatening to lớn the Communist Party’s monopoly of power.

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Authorities bloông chồng accesses khổng lồ websites & request that social truyền thông media and/or telecommunications companies remove contents deemed lớn be politically sensitive sầu. Those who criticize the one buổi tiệc nhỏ regime face police intimidation, harassment, restricted movement, physical assault, detention, and arrest & imprisonment. Police detain political detainees for months without access lớn legal counsel and subject them khổng lồ abusive interrogations. Party-controlled courts sentence bloggers và activists on bogus national security charges. In 2019, authorities convicted at least 25 people in politically motivated cases.

In January, Vietnam presented an inaccurate picture of its human rights record during its Universal Periodic Đánh Giá (UPR) at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva. The government implausibly claimed that it had fully implemented 159, and partially implemented a further 16, of the 182 recommendations accepted at its previous Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in năm trước.

In October, Vietphái mạnh endorsed the Safe Schools Declaration, an international political commitment lớn protect education during armed conflict.

Freedom of Expression, Opinion, và Speech

Vietnamese rights bloggers face regular harassment và intimidation. Officials often arrest political critics for their posts on the internet. In 2019, Vietnam put on trial at least 14 people & sentenced them khổng lồ between five and nine years in prison for “making, storing, disseminating or propagandizing information, materials & products that ayên to oppose the State of the Sociamenu Republic of Vietnam giới.”

Activists & bloggers face frequent physical assaults by officials or thugs who appear to work in coordination with authorities & enjoy impunity. In January, unidentified men abducted và hooded an anti-corruption campaigner, Ha Van Nam, drove hyên around in a van while beating hyên ổn, and then left hyên ổn outside a hospital with two broken ribs. In June, rights activist Truong Minch Huong was attacked by four men in civilian clothes after meeting with families of several political prisoners. He suffered a broken rib.

In July, a group of rights activists was attacked in Nghe An province while traveling lớn a local prison to show tư vấn for political prisoners there on hunger strike protesting mistreatment. As the activists approached the prison, a large group of plainclothes men attacked them with sticks & helmets, broke their phones, và robbed them. Many were injured, including prominent blogger Huynh Ngoc Chenh and his wife, human rights activist Nguyen Thuy Hanh.

Police routinely place activists under house arrest or briefly detain them to prsự kiện them from participating in meetings and protests or attending the trials of fellow activists. In March 2019, security agents prevented several writers và poets from leaving their houses to lớn attend an award event organized by Van Viet, a literary group operating without government approval. In May, police blocked và prevented friends & colleagues trying khổng lồ visit blogger Nguyen Huu Vinch, who just completed his five-year prison term. In May, security agents stopped former political prisoners Le Cong Dinch và Psi mê Ba Hai, & Cao Dai religious activist Hua Phi, from leaving their houses khổng lồ meet with US diplomats prior to lớn the 2019 US-Vietphái mạnh Human Rights Dialogue. In May, 44 activists & bloggers signed a public letter denouncing violations of their right to freedom of movement.

Police have also prevented rights campaigners from traveling abroad, sometimes citing vague national security reasons. In March, police barred political prisoner Nguyen Bac Truyen’s wife, Bui Kyên ổn Phuong, from leaving Vietphái nam for Singapore. In June, pro-environment activist Cao Vinc Thinc was prohibited from leaving Vietphái mạnh for Thailand.

Freedom of Media and Access to lớn Information

The Vietnamese government continues to prohibit independent or privately owned media outlets from operating. It exerts strict control over radio và television stations and printed publications. Criminal penalties apply to lớn those who disseminate materials deemed lớn oppose the government, threaten national security, or promote “reactionary” ideas. Authorities block access to websites, frequently shut blogs, & require mạng internet service providers lớn remove nội dung or social truyền thông accounts deemed politically unacceptable.

Vietnam’s problematic cybersecurity law went inkhổng lồ effect in January 2019. The overly broad & vague law gives authorities wide discretion to lớn censor không lấy phí expression và requires service providers khổng lồ take down content that authorities consider offensive within 24 hours of receiving the request.

In August, Minister of Information và Communications Nguyen Manh Hung claimed that Facebook had complied with “70 khổng lồ 75 percent” of the government’s requests lớn restrict content, up from “about 30 percent” previously. Aao ước the materials Facebook removed, according to the ministry, were “more than 200 links to articles with nội dung opposing the Party & the State.”

The minister also claimed that Google complies with “80 to 85 percent” of its requests khổng lồ restrict nội dung on YouTube and other Google services, up from “60 percent” previously. The ministry did not discthua kém the sources of these figures or legal bases for these requests. The ministry said it has asked Facebook lớn limit some live-streaming capabilities và to lớn “pre-censor” online content và remove ads “that spread kém chất lượng news related to lớn political issues upon request from the government.”

Facebook told Human Rights Watch that its standards relating to lớn takedowns và geographic blocking of content “are global.” The process for taking down or blocking content, Facebook said in a written communication, is the “same in Vietnam giới as it is around the world.” Reported nội dung is first reviewed against the company’s Community Standards; if it passes muster, Facebook says it will then assess whether the government request is legally valid under local law and international human rights law.

In May, a court in Dong Nai sentenced two Facebook users, Vu Thi Dung and Nguyen Thi Ngoc Suong, to six years and five sầu years’ imprisonment respectively, for reading & listening lớn materials on Facebook & distributing leaflets calling on people to prodemo against Đài Loan Trung Quốc & state oppression. They were charged with possessing materials “that alặng to lớn oppose the State of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam” under penal code article 117. Authorities convicted và sentenced rights activists Nguyen Ngoc Anh to lớn six years in prison in June và Nguyen Nang Tinch to 11 years in prison in November, both for their posts on Facebook.

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Freedom of Association & Assembly

Vietphái mạnh continues khổng lồ prohibit independent labor unions, human rights organizations, & political parties. Organizers trying lớn establish unions or workers’ groups face harassment, intimidation, và retaliation. In February, labor activist Nguyen Hoang Quoc Hung completed his nine-year prison term for helping to lớn organize a strike in Tra Vinc province in 2010. Police immediately placed hyên ổn under intrusive surveillance.

Under domestic and international pressure, the National Assembly passed a resolution in June lớn ratify International Labor Convention 98 on collective sầu bargaining và the right to organize.

Authorities require approval for public gatherings, and systematically refuse permission for meetings, marches, or public gatherings they deem to be politically unacceptable.

Freedom of Religion

The government restricts religious practice through legislation, registration requirements, và surveillance. Religious groups are required to lớn get approval from & register with the government, và operate under government-controlled management boards.

While authorities allow many government-affiliated churches and pagodas lớn hold worship services, they ban religious activities that they arbitrarily deem khổng lồ be contrary khổng lồ the “national interest,” “public order,” or “national unity,” including many ordinary types of religious functions. Police monitor, harass, & sometimes violently craông xã down on religious groups operating outside government-controlled institutions. Unrecognized religious groups, including Cao Dai, Hoa Hao, Christian, & Buddhist groups, face constant surveillance, harassment, & intimidation. Followers of independent religious group are subject to public criticism, forced renunciation of faith, detention, interrogation, torture, & imprisonment.

In March, a court in Gia Lai province put Ksor Ruk on trial for following an unrecognized Dega Protestant sect & sentenced him to lớn 10 years in prison. Ksor Ruk served a six-year prison sentence between 2005-2011 for the same violation. In August, Rah Lan Hip was convicted by the same court khổng lồ seven years in prison, also for being involved with Dega Protestantism. In April 2019, police in Dien Bien province reported that they had successfully convinced “163 households including 1,006 people to have renounced an evil religion called ‘Gie Sua.’” In May 2019, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom published its report in which Vietphái mạnh is listed as a “Country of Particular Concern.”

Key International Actors

China remains the most influential power on Vietnam giới. Maritime disputes continue khổng lồ complicate the bilateral relationship of these Communist Party governments with similar repressive approaches lớn human rights. In July and August, China’s survey ship Haiyang Dizhi 8 entered waters near Vanguard Bank, which caused protests in Hanoi. Vietphái mạnh appeared to benefit from the trade war between the United States and China. During the first eight months of 2019, Đài Loan Trung Quốc rose lớn become the largest direct investor in Vietphái mạnh.

Vietnam’s relationship with the European Union improved significantly. In June, the EU & Vietnam signed the European-Vietnam giới Free Trade Agreement which will significantly boost trade between the two once ratified by both sides. Over the year, the EU raised concerns over convictions & imprisonment of several rights activists. In June, several members of the European Parliament wrote a letter urging the EU to press the Vietnamese government to improve its rights record.

The United States continues khổng lồ exp& ties with Vietnam giới. US Navy ships made several ports of Gọi, và Vietnamese officers took part in US-led training, including in the United States. In February, President Donald Trump chose Vietnam giới as location for a summit with North Korean leader Klặng Jong-un. In August, two senior US Air Force generals made a formal visit khổng lồ the country, aao ước other visits by US military officers as part of bilateral or regional events.

Australia’s bilateral relationship with Vietphái mạnh continued lớn grow. In August 2019, Prime Minister Scott Morrison visited Hanoi, but failed khổng lồ address human rights concerns publicly during his visit. Australia’s concerns about Hanoi’s human rights violations are relegated lớn an annual bilateral human rights dialogue, without any promising signs from Hanoi.

As the most important bilateral donor khổng lồ Vietphái nam, Japan continues khổng lồ remain silent on Vietnam’s long history of rights repression. In May, Minister of Defense Takeshi lwaya visited Vietnam khổng lồ boost national defense cooperation between the two countries. In July, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe welcomed Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc in Tokyo. Human Rights Watch learned that human rights issues were not discussed in either meeting.