Washington, Sep 11 - WASHINGTON, D.C. – A bill to promote democracy, freedom and human rights in Vietnam—“The Vietnam Human Rights Act of 2012”— authored by U.S. Congressman Chris Smith (NJ-04), was approved by the House of Representatives in a voice vote Tuesday night.
“It is imperative that the United States Government send an unequivocal message to the Vietnamese regime that it must end its human rights abuses against its own citizens,” said Smith on the floor of the House. He is a senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee who chairs its Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, and Human Rights. “H.R. 1410 would institute effective measures towards improving human rights in Vietnam. As reported by the Committee on Foreign Affairs, this bill prohibits any increase in non-humanitarian assistance to the Government of Vietnam above Fiscal Year 2011 levels unless the government makes substantial progress in establishing a democracy and promoting human rights.” Click here to read Smith’s remarks.
Smith introduced the bill, H.R. 1410, to promote freedom and democracy in Vietnam. The legislation would set restrictions on U.S. aid but allow humanitarian assistance to continue. H.R. 1410 prohibits U.S. non-humanitarian assistance to the Government of Vietnam over current levels unless increased U.S. dollars for programs including economic, environmental and military initiatives are commensurate with U.S. funding for human rights and democracy programs in Vietnam.
It also prohibits non-humanitarian aid unless the President certifies to Congress that Vietnam has dramatically improved its human rights record, specifically including the release of all political and religious prisoners, and protects the right to freedom of assembly, religious expression and association. Human rights activists and victims of ongoing abuses at the hands of the Vietnamese Government testified before Smith’s human rights panel earlier this year including Anh “Joseph” Cao, former Member of the U.S. Congress, Dr. Nguyen Dinh Thang, the Executive Director of Boat People SOS, and Human Rights Watch. Smith referenced Thangs testimony on the House floor.