Ranking member Eni Faleomavaega of the US House of Representatives’ Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific has said that the Vietnam Human Rights Act (HR 1410), passed on September 11, 2012 by voice vote on the House floor, is the wrong way forward.

In a press release on Sept. 12, Eni Faleomavaega expressed his regret at the issuance of the bill, which was offered by the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, and Human Rights, although the Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific has broad jurisdiction for US policy affecting Vietnam.

“The Africa Subcommittee had no interest in obtaining more accurate information before putting a flawed bill like this forward,” Faleomavaega said.

In his opinion, the HR 1410 is based on outdated information which is not representative of Vietnam’s progress.

It is also shortsighted in its approach and contrary to the efforts of the Clinton, Bush, and Obama Administrations, all of which have sought to strengthen US partnership with Vietnam, he added.

He affirmed that the bill is not law, and it is highly unlikely that it will ever become law in its present form because although HR 1410 purports to promote the development of freedom and democracy in Vietnam, it fails in its purpose.

The Congressional Research Service also believed that the bill could chill the recent warming of bilateral political and security ties and could weaken economic reformers in ongoing domestic political battles inside Vietnam.

Faleomavaega added that the State Department shares his concerns that
measures in HR 1410 could adversely affect US’ security relationship with Vietnam and greatly reduce chances of negotiating a roadmap on human rights. It does not best serve the interests of the US as well as the Vietnamese American community.

As a person who used to serve in Vietnam in 1967, he said from 1967 to 1971, the US sprayed millions of litres of Agent Orange in Vietnam, subjecting millions of innocent civilians to dioxin. However, there seems to be no real interest on the part of the US to clean up the mess it left behind, he added.

He said while Vietnam may have work to do on improving its human rights record, the US also has work to do which should include being sincere about the measurable progress Vietnam has made.

Faleomavaega included in his press release the statement of the Vietnamese Embassy in the US and excerpts from the State Department report to clear up the misleading data which was put forward in HR 1410.

“I hope that the advocates of HR 1410, if they are truly sincere about human rights, will apply their efforts to assisting Vietnam with Agent Orange clean-up because the mess we left behind is a serious violation of human rights that needs to be corrected once and for all,” Faleomavaega concluded.-VNA