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The human rights situation in Vietnam has received a great deal of attention over the last year, from a variety of perspectives and from a variety of stakeholders.
At the intergovernmental level, the Vietnamese government has proudly mentioned their effective anti-epidemic achievements in 2020 at many international forums as solid evidence of the respect and guarantee of human rights in Vietnam. This confidence is clearly expressed in the Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh’s statement on February 22, 2021, regarding Vietnam’s anticipation of the Human Rights Council candidacy. To continue to demonstrate goodwill in international human rights dialogues, Vietnam actively drafted a voluntary mid-term report under the UPR cycle for the first time, informing on the progress of implementing the 241/291 recommendations that the country accepted during the 3rd UPR dialogue session in 2019.
Domestically, the year 2021 witnessed a number of significant socio-political events, including the 13th Congress of the Communist Party of Vietnam, the election of the 15th National Assembly and People’s Councils at all levels, and the appointment of senior personnel in the new government term. Furthermore, the fourth nationwide Covid outbreak and the prolonged blockade have revealed delays and incompetence at all levels of government, causing frustration and deep social division. Human rights are discussed “extraordinarily” frequently throughout the year by a wide range of stakeholders, including the government, social organizations, experts and the general public. Discussions about human rights and human rights violations take place all over social networks, ranging from socio-economic and cultural rights to topics that are often more sensitive like civil – political rights.
Human rights education was initially incorporated into Vietnamese school curricula. Through Decision No. 1309/QD-TTg dated September 5, 2017, the Vietnamese government approved the Scheme to include human rights content in educational curricula in the national education system. By December 2021, this project would have been supplemented by Directive No. 34/CT-TTg on strengthening the above-mentioned project’s implementation. The Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics, also known as the Party School, is in charge of this project, and it is coordinated by a number of ministries and agencies, including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Labor, Invalids, and Social Affairs (MOLISA), and the Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC).
Unfortunately, contrary to the government’s rhetoric, 2021 continues to be a terrible year with numerous serious human rights violations in Vietnam. The government has increased repression of dissenters, tightened freedom of speech and press, and arbitrarily distorted the rule of law to control society in order to achieve political purposes. Human rights issues have gradually gained public attention, though public awareness of violations has not improved significantly.
Vietnamese authorities have made at least 44 new arrests and put 47 dissidents on trial for different crimes in 2021. Among the crimes used to prosecute dissidents, article 331 on abuse of democratic freedoms and article 117 on propaganda against the state have been used at the highest frequency. Most of the government’s accusations against these dissidents are based on dissenting but peaceful statements posted on social media.
Epidemic prevention policies are the focus of discussion in 2021, ranging from cases of forced isolation and testing to policies that are unconstitutional, inhumane and human rights violating.
In this context, the report attempts to document notable events and outline the human rights situation for 2021 as honestly as possible. The information in the report is collected from direct and indirect sources such as domestic and international press, family and individuals who have been subjected to human rights violations.