In fact, the reports were based on fabricated and groundless information because the international community has recognised Vietnam’s achievements in ensuring and promoting human rights, including freedom of speech and freedom of press.
Ensuring and promoting human rights is a consistent policy of the Vietnamese State, which has been implemented in line with Vietnam’s Constitution and law as well as international conventions on human rights to which Vietnam is a party.
From 2014 to 2016, dozens of legal documents relating to human rights and citizen rights were adopted to concretise regulations stipulated in the Constitution 2013, in accordance with international conventions to which Vietnam is a party.
Vietnam has joined the Convention against Torture (CAT) and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and has been an official party to seven out of nine major UN conventions on human rights.
The country has also actively implemented international missions and commitments on human rights by well assuming the role as a member of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) in the 2016-2018 tenure and the Executive Board of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) in the 2015-2019 tenure, while proactively and responsibly participating in the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR).
Vietnam’s important achievements in improving human rights are vivid evidence of the efforts. The country’s per capita income increased to 2,215 USD in 2016 from 1,900 USD in 2013. The number of people receiving monthly social allowances and health insurance cards has been on the rise while more than 25 percent of communes nationwide have met standards for new-style rural area building.
The country has paid due attention to the social security and welfare work. Social welfare policies have been carried out to remove difficulties for local residents in areas affected by natural disasters, droughts, and saltwater intrusion, as well as those in four central provinces influenced by the marine environmental incident last year.
The strong development of the Vietnamese press in the recent past also demonstrated that the freedom of speech and freedom of press in Vietnam have been guaranteed not only in law but also in reality. The Press Law 2016 officially took effect on January 1, 2017, serving as a foundation to ensure these rights.
Specially, the internet is booming in Vietnam and Vietnam is listed among 20 nations with the largest number of Internet users, ranking 8th in Asia and 2nd in ASEAN. Citizens use the Internet to show their rights to freedom of speech. Currently, about 50 million Vietnamese people use the Internet, making up 52 percent of the country’s total population. The number of Facebook users amounts to 35 million, equivalent to one-third of the population, including 21 million users access everyday via mobile devices.
Vice President and Managing Director of Google in Southeast Asia and India Rajan Anandan affirmed that Vietnam has the most dynamic Internet market in the world and is the only market with the number of Internet users higher than the number of non-users.
These figures indicate freedom of speech and freedom of press in Vietnam. There is no reason why the HRW and the Al Jazeera TV channel did not understand these facts. The HRW and Al Jazeera even sought to distort reality without distinguishing the difference between genuine bloggers and those using social websites to propagandise against the Vietnamese Party and State and harm the interests of the Vietnamese people.
Vietnam is resolved to deal with law violators. In Vietnam, nobody has been handled for writing blogs or articles. Only those who abuse freedom of press, freedom of speech and freedom of Internet to create social disorder, resist the State and people or go counter to the national interests are strictly punished.
Those who have been arrested and brought to trial in the recent past have abused freedom of speech to post articles with untrue information, defaming the Party’s guidelines and policies and the State’s law, distorting history and inciting people to oppose the State, and undermining national security, social order and safety.
All sovereign nations across the world have laws to strictly deal with those who take unfair advantage of freedom of speech and freedom of press to resist their countries and provoke hatred and violence.
Internet managers or social websites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have put in place measures to control wrong and fake contents posted online. Even, Facebook was once sued by several European nations such as Austria, France and Germany and fined for spreading online contents that incite hatred and distort the truth. The HRW and Al Jazeera could not claim that “freedom of speech” allows one to “change black to white” to distort the truth.
That the Vietnamese State respects and ensures human rights is undeniable and has been recognised by the international community. Therefore, the HRW and Al Jazeera TV channel need to have an objective and correct view on the human rights situation in Vietnam.