Dr. Cao Duc Thai from the Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics and Public Administration has written an article affirming the fact that the State of Vietnam always respects and ensures human and citizens’ rights, on the occasion of the World Human Rights Days that falls on December 10.

The reality is that regaining and ensuring human and citizens’ rights is a goal throughout all periods of the revolution led by the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV), which can be clearly seen in the Party’s political platforms and guidelines, the researcher and lecturer wrote.

He cited the 2011 Political Platform as an example, which states that “the socialist society our people are building is a society of a strong country, wealthy people, with democracy, fairness and civilisation”, and “the people are the centre of the development strategy and also the subject of development.

Respecting and ensuring human rights, attaching human rights with the rights and interests of the nation”. It adds that “the State respects and ensures human and citizens’ rights, cares for the wellbeing and free development of each individual. The citizens’ rights and obligations are stipulated by the Constitution. Citizens’ rights are inseparable from their obligations”.

Hostile forces and those with wrong attitudes, either deliberately or incidentally, ignore the specific characteristics of human rights. They often idealise the general characteristics of human rights, using only these to assess the human rights situation in countries worldwide.

The existence of both general and specific human rights characteristics is an objective in socio-political reality. The acknowledgement of their relationship is not only the viewpoint of Vietnam. In fact, it is recognised by the global community in various human rights documents, especially the 1993 Vienna Declaration and Action Programme. It means that differences in human rights (for example in laws) between Vietnam and other countries are possible and this does not run counter to the global community’s stance on human rights.

About the responsibility to protect human rights, the global community sticks steadfast to the stance that the most important right and obligation belongs to each nation. It is included in the “Right of nations to self-determination” stated in the United Nations (UN) Charter, the 1948 World Declaration on Human Rights and the 1966 International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights.

On the right of nations to self-determination, countries are entitled to choose their own social regimes (capitalism or socialism), national institutions (multi-party or single party, rule of law, separation of three powers, or mixed government), political ideologies (Marxism-Leninism or capitalism), and other legal regulations. They fall within the authority of each state and no other country has the right to intervene, or even the United Nations.

Vietnam has become a member of the UN and almost all international human rights treaties. The country has established itself as a responsible member of the international community. However, this does not prevent Vietnam from dealing with human rights issues in accordance with its national law in its own right.

One of the tactics usually employed by hostile forces to slander and accuse the Vietnamese State of infringing upon human and citizens’ rights is to stress rights while overlooking obligations. According to the general view of the international community, there are both absolute human rights which must be ensured in every circumstance and rights that are limited (for community interests).

The State of Vietnam has the right to decide and apply certain limitations (in accordance with the law) on some human rights, which is within the national authority as stipulated by the UN Charter and international law on human rights.

Some capitalising on human rights often allege that Vietnamese law only protects the Party and State without considering human and citizens’ rights. The Vietnamese Party and State take the stance that the Vietnamese Constitution and law protect the social regime, the socialist State and human and citizens’ rights. The 1992 Constitution stipulates respect and protection of human and citizens’ rights and citizens’ duty to abide by the law at the same time.

It is only normal that the 1999 Criminal Code contains human rights-related regulations to protect the social regime and national institutions. The State’s policy, on one hand, aims to punish criminals, and on the other hand, more importantly, to ensure social stability, protect the revolution’s achievements and citizens’ rights to democracy and freedom. In Vietnamese law, there is no such notion as the so-called “prisoner of conscience”, or persons with “difference of political opinions”. The definition of criminals under the 1999 Criminal Code does not exclude “mild” or “non-violent” acts, but covers all acts that damage the State’s interests or violate the legitimate rights and benefits of individuals and organisations.
The reality in the Vietnamese revolution shows that the Party and State always make national independence, sovereignty and citizens’ freedom and happiness as the goal to strive for. The country has so far joined almost all international human rights treaties. At the same time, it has integrated the content of these treaties into the national legal system.

Regarding the guarantee of civil and political rights, Dr. Thai from the Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics and Public Administration remarked that these rights are always respected and strongly enforced by the Party and State. Except during wartime, the right to vote and run for election, the office term of the National Assembly and key State positions are seriously observed. Besides the Press Law that declares the public’s right to freedom of speech, the State has issued regulations stating Government bodies are responsible for making periodic reports and providing information for the media when necessary.

Vietnam now has over 700 media agencies with more than 850 publications, 68 radio and television stations at both the central and local levels, over 80 e-newspapers and thousands of news websites and blogs. The Vietnamese people today, from urban to remote and mountainous areas, also have access to many foreign news and media agencies like Reuters, BBC , VOA, CNN, AFP and websites like Yahoo, Google and Facebook.

It is undeniable that during some revolutionary periods, the Party committed certain mistakes and shortcomings, especially due to a dogmatic attitude in acquiring foreign experience, for example, the land reform (1954-1956), the “rehabilitation of the bourgeoisie” in the southern region following liberation, and some policies on socialism building following the old model (the sixth National Party Congress 1986 conducted self-criticism on these).

It is also true that over the past tenures, the State’s political system has shown signs of degradation in political ideology, lifestyle and ethics among a number of Party and State officials at different levels, the appearance of “interest groups”, a wealth gap in society and many other negative phenomena. Such have damaged the guarantee of human and citizens’ rights.

Nevertheless, those reasons are not sufficient to negate the Party’s goals and ideals as well as the achievements in human rights made by the Vietnamese revolution over the last half a century.

Respecting and ensuring human rights is a measurement of social progress. Protection of the socialist regime and State is the prerequisite for Vietnam to overcome all challenges towards achieving the goal of a strong country, wealthy people and a democratic, fair and civilised society.-VNA