Dr Cao Duc Thai from the Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics and Public Administration writes that Vie Nam always respects human and citizens' rights. The article was produced to mark World Human Rights Day yesterday.
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 Viet Nam (CPV). This can be clearly seen in the Party's political platforms and guidelines," Dr Cao Duc Thai wrote.
Thai cited the 2011 Political Platform as an example. It states that: "The socialist society our people is building is a society of a strong country, wealthy people, with democracy, fairness and civilisation."
It also states that: "The people are the centre of the development strategy and also the subject of development. (The aim is to) respect and ensure human rights, and link them with the rights and interests of the nation".
It adds that: "The State respects and ensures human and citizens' rights, cares for the well being and free development of each individual. Citizens' rights and obligations are stipulated by the Constitution. These rights are inseparable from their obligations."
Thai said hostile forces and those with wrong attitudes, either deliberately or incidentally, ignored the specific characteristics of human rights. They often idealised the general characteristics of human rights, using them to assess the human-rights situation in countries worldwide.
"The existence of both general and specific human-rights characteristics is an objective socio-political reality." he said. "The acknowledgement of the relationship is not only the viewpoint of Viet Nam, it is recognised by the global community in various human-rights documents, especially the 1993 Vienna Declaration and Action Programme.
"This means that differences in human rights (for example in laws) between Viet Nam and other countries are possible and this does not run counter to the global community's stance on human rights.
"On 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 Charter, the 1948 World Declaration on Human Rights and the 1966 International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights.
"This means that 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. These all fall within the authority of each state and no other country has the right to intervene, or even the UN.
"Viet Nam has become a member of the UN and has signed most international human-rights treaties. The country has established itself as a responsible member of the international community. However, this does not prevent it 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 the Vietnamese State and accuse it 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 Viet Nam 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 people trying to capitalise 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 for and the protection of human and citizens' rights and, at the same time, citizens' duty to abide by the law.
"It is 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 a 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 of the Vietnamese revolution is that the Party and State always make national independence, sovereignty and citizens' freedom and happiness as goals to strive for. The country has joined almost all international human-rights treaties. At the same time, it has integrated the content of these treaties into the national legal system," Thai said.
Regarding the guarantee of civil and political rights, Thai said these rights were always respected and strongly enforced by the Party and State. Apart from times of war, the right to vote and run for election, the office term of the National Assembly and key State positions were seriously observed.
He said that the Press Law declared the public's right to freedom of speech. The State has issued regulations stating Government bodies were responsible for making periodic reports and providing information for the media.
"Viet Nam now has more than 700 media agencies with more than 850 publications, 68 radio and television stations at both the central and local levels, more than 80 e-newspapers and thousands of news websites and blogs," Thai said. "The Vietnamese people today, from urban to remote and mountainous areas, also have access to many foreign news and media agencies like Reuters, BBC , Voice of America, 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 in certain past periods, the State's political system has shown signs of degraded political ideology, lifestyle and ethics among Party and State officials at different levels, the appearance of ‘interest groups', a wealth gap in society and many other negative phenomena. Such things have damaged the guarantee of 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 Viet Nam to overcome all challenges and achieve a strong country, wealthy people and a democratic, fair and civilised society," Thai said. — VNS