WASHINGTON (VNS)— Ranking member Eni Faleomavaega, of the US House of Representatives' Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, has said the Viet Nam Human Rights Act (HR 1410), passed on September 11 by voice vote on the House floor, is the wrong way forward.
In his press statement issued right after the vote, Eni Faleomavaega expressed his regret at the issuance of the Bill, which was submitted 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 Viet Nam.
"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In his opinion, the HR 1410 was based on outdated information which was not representative of Viet Nam's progress.
It was also short-sighted in its approach and contrary to the efforts of the Clinton, Bush, and Obama administrations, all of which had sought to strengthen the US partnership with Viet Nam, he said.
He affirmed the Bill was not law, and it was highly unlikely that it would ever become law in its present form because although HR 1410 purports to promote the development of freedom and democracy in Viet Nam, it failed in its purpose.
The Congressional Research Service also believed the bill could chill the recent warming of bilateral political and security ties and could weaken economic reformers in Viet Nam.
Faleomavaega said the US State Department shared his concerns that measures in HR 1410 could adversely affect US security relationship with Viet Nam and greatly reduced chances of negotiating a roadmap on human rights. It did not best serve the interests of the US or the Vietnamese American community.
As a person who used to serve in Viet Nam in 1967, he said that from 1967 to 1971 the US sprayed millions of litres of Agent Orange in Viet Nam, subjecting millions of innocent civilians to dioxin. However, there seemed to be no real interest on the part of the US to clean up the mess it left behind.
He said that while Viet Nam might have work to do on improving its human rights record, the US also had work to do, which should include being sincere about the measurable progress Viet Nam had made.
Faleomavaega included in his press release a statement by the Vietnamese Embassy in the US and excerpts from the State Department report to clear up a misleading date 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 Viet Nam with the 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 said. — VNS