< Back to H.R. 6432 (111th Congress, 2009–2010)

Text of the Vietnam Democracy Promotion Act of 2010

This bill was introduced on November 18, 2010, in a previous session of Congress, but was not enacted. The text of the bill below is as of Nov 18, 2010 (Introduced).

Source: GPO

I

111th CONGRESS

2d Session

H. R. 6432

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

November 18, 2010

introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs

A BILL

To promote freedom and democracy in Vietnam.

1.

Short title; table of contents

(a)

Short title

This Act may be cited as the Vietnam Democracy Promotion Act of 2010.

(b)

Table of contents

The table of contents for this Act is as follows:

Sec. 1. Short title; table of contents.

Sec. 2. Findings.

Sec. 3. Purpose.

Title I—Assistance to promote freedom and democracy in Vietnam

Sec. 101. Authorization of assistance.

Sec. 102. Authorization of appropriations.

Title II—United States public diplomacy and refugee policy

Sec. 201. Radio Free Asia transmissions to Vietnam.

Sec. 202. United States educational and cultural exchange programs with Vietnam.

Sec. 203. Refugee resettlement for nationals of Vietnam.

Title III—Conditions on increased nonhumanitarian assistance to the Government of Vietnam

Sec. 301. Conditions.

Sec. 302. Definitions.

Sec. 303. Effective date.

Title IV—Annual report on freedom and democracy in Vietnam

Sec. 401. Annual report.

2.

Findings

Congress makes the following findings:

(1)

The relationship between the United States and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam has grown substantially since the end of the trade embargo in 1994, with annual trade between the countries reaching more than $15,200,000,000 in 2008.

(2)

The transition of the Government of Vietnam toward greater economic activity and trade has not been matched by greater political freedom and substantial improvements in basic human rights for the citizens of Vietnam, including freedom of religion, expression, association, and assembly.

(3)

The United States Congress agreed to Vietnam becoming an official member of the World Trade Organization in 2006, amidst assurances that the Government of Vietnam was steadily improving its human rights record and would continue to do so.

(4)

Despite assurances that Vietnam's accession to the World Trade Organization would be met with greater respect for human rights, the Government of Vietnam has continued to strictly regulate some religious practices and to imprison or put under house arrest an undetermined number of individuals for their peaceful advocacy of political views or religious beliefs, including Father Nguyen Van Ly, Tran Huynh Duy Thuc, Nguyen Tien Trung, Le Thang Long, Tran Duc Thach, Tran Anh Kim, Pham Van Troi, Nguyen Xuan Nghia, Nguyen Van Tuc, Nguyen Manh Son, Nguyen Manh Tinh, Ngo Quynh, Nguyen Kim Nhan, Truong Minh Duc, Nguyen Van Hai, Vu Hung, Tran Khai Thanh Thuy, and Pham Thanh Nghien, and human rights lawyers, Le Cong Dinh, Nguyen Van Dai, and Le Thi Cong Nhan. Others arrested during 2010 are being held incommunicado, including Cu Huy Ha Vu, Pham Minh Hoang, Phan Thanh Hai, and Vi Duc Hoi.

(5)

Vietnam remains a one-party state, ruled and controlled by the Communist Party of Vietnam, which continues to deny the right of citizens to change their government.

(6)

Although in recent years the National Assembly of Vietnam has on occasion played a role as a forum for highlighting local concerns, corruption, and inefficiency, the National Assembly remains subject to the direction of the Communist Party of Vietnam and that party maintains control over the selection of candidates in national and local elections.

(7)

The Government of Vietnam forbids public challenge to the legitimacy of the one-party state, restricts freedoms of opinion, the press, assembly, and association, and tightly limits access to the Internet and telecommunication. Cyberattacks originating from Vietnam-based servers have disabled dissident websites and the Government of Vietnam introduced new restrictions on public internet shops while continuing to restrict access to numerous overseas and domestic blogs, news sites, and other websites perceived to carry content critical of the Government of Vietnam.

(8)

The Government of Vietnam continues to detain, imprison, place under house arrest, convict, and otherwise restrict individuals for the peaceful expression of dissenting political or religious views, including democracy and human rights activists, independent trade union leaders, non-state-sanctioned publishers, journalists, bloggers, members of ethnic minorities, and unsanctioned religious groups.

(9)

The Government of Vietnam has also failed to improve labor rights, continues to harass, arrest, and imprison workers rights activists, including Doan Huy Chuong, Do Thi Minh Hanh, and Nguyen Hoang Quoc Hung, and restricts the right to organize independently.

(10)

The Government of Vietnam continues to limit freedom of religion, pressure all religious groups to come under the control of government- and party-controlled management boards, and restrict the operation of independent religious organizations, including the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam and members of unsanctioned Mennonite, Cao Dai, Theravada Buddhist, and Hoa Hao Buddhist religious groups and independent Protestant house churches, primarily in the central and northern highlands. Religious leaders who do not conform to the Government’s demands are often harassed, arrested, imprisoned, or put under house arrest.

(11)

As noted in the October 2009 report of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, [T]here continue to be far too many serious abuses and restrictions of religious freedom in the country. Individuals continue to be imprisoned or detained for reasons related to their religious activity or religious freedom advocacy; police and government officials are not held fully accountable for abuses; independent religious activity remains illegal; and legal protection for government-approved religious organizations are both vague and subject to arbitrary or discriminatory interpretations based on political factors. In addition, improvements experienced by some religious communities are not experienced by others, including the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam (UBCV), independent Hoa Hao, Cao Dai, and Protestant groups, and some ethnic minority Protestants and Buddhists. Also, over the past year, property disputes between the government and the Catholic Church in Hanoi led to detention, threats, harassment, and violence by contract thugs against peaceful prayer vigils and religious leaders..

(12)

Despite reported progress in church openings and legal registrations of religious venues, the Government of Vietnam has halted most religious reforms since the Department of State lifted the country of particular concern for religious freedom violations designation for Vietnam in November 2006.

(13)

Unregistered ethnic minority Protestant congregations suffer severe abuses because of actions by the Government of Vietnam, which have included forced renunciations of faith, pressure to join government-recognized religious groups, arrest and harassment, the withholding of social programs provided for the general population, destruction of churches and pagodas, confiscation and destruction of property, and subjection to severe beatings.

(14)

During peaceful Catholic prayer vigils calling for the return of government-confiscated church properties during 2008 at the Thai Ha Church in Ha Noi, protestors were dispersed after being harassed, some were detained, and some of the church property was destroyed. Similar incidents happened at Bau Sen, Loan Ly, and Tam Toa parishes in central Vietnam and more recently at Dong Chiem parish in Hanoi, where religious statues and a crucifix were destroyed and parishioners and clergies were physically harmed, and at Con Dau parish, where police forcibly dispersed a Catholic funeral ceremony in May 2010 to a cemetery located on disputed land. Afterwards, police and members of the civilian defense forces arrested and interrogated dozens of Con Dau parishioners, with one parishioner dying from injuries sustained during a beating in July 2010 by civilian defense forces and two women suffered miscarriages resulted from police tortures. Catholics continue to face some restrictions on selection of clergy, the establishment of seminaries and seminary candidates, and restrictions on individual cases of travel and church registration. Dissident clerics such as Father Phan Van Loi and Father Nguyen Van Ly are currently under house arrest.

(15)

The Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam suffers persecution as the Government of Vietnam continues to restrict contacts and movement of senior clergy for refusing to join the state-sponsored Buddhist organizations, the Government restricts expression and assembly, and the Government continues to harass and threaten monks, nuns, and youth leaders of the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam. The Supreme Patriarch of Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam, Thich Quang Do, is currently under house arrest.

(16)

The Bat Nha Buddhists monastery in Lam Dong province was attacked by government thugs in October 2009. About 400 monks and nuns were physically abused and forcibly evicted from the monastery.

(17)

The Government of Vietnam continues to suppress the activities of other religious adherents, including Cao Dai, Hoa Hao, Mennonites, and Montagnard Christians belonging to churches that lack official recognition or have chosen not to affiliate with the state-sanctioned groups, including through the use of detention and imprisonment.

(18)

During Easter weekend in April 2004, thousands of Montagnard Christians in the Central Highlands gathered to protest their treatment by the Government of Vietnam, including the confiscation of tribal lands and ongoing restrictions on religious activities. Credible reports indicate that the protests were met with violent response as many demonstrators were arrested or went into hiding, that many were injured, and that some were killed. At least 200 of these Montagnard Christians are still serving long sentences for their involvement in peaceful demonstrations in 2001 and 2004. Government officials continue to severely restrict movement by the Montagnards and prohibit them from seeking asylum in Cambodia. Many Montagnards were also imprisoned and otherwise mistreated for their involvement in demonstrations in 2008.

(19)

Ethnic minority Hmong in the Northwest Highlands of Vietnam also suffer restrictions, abuses, and persecution by the Government of Vietnam, and although the Government is now allowing some Hmong Protestants to organize and conduct religious activity, some government officials continue to deny or ignore additional applications for registration.

(20)

In 2007, the Government of Vietnam arrested and expelled at least 20 ethnic Khmer Buddhist monks in Soc Trang province from the monkhood and imprisoned 5 monks in response to a peaceful religious protest in February 2007. In July 2010, authorities in Tra Vinh arrested and purported to defrock Khmer Krom Buddhist abbot Thach Sophon, sentencing him in September to a 9-month suspended sentence. He remains under house arrest.

(21)

The Government of Vietnam controls all print and electronic media, including access to the Internet, jams the signals of some foreign radio stations, including Radio Free Asia, and has detained and imprisoned individuals who have posted, published, sent, or otherwise distributed democracy-related materials.

(22)

People arrested in Vietnam because of their political or religious affiliations and activities and charged with vaguely defined national security crimes are not accorded due process of law. During the pre-trial investigatory phase of their detention, religious and political prisoners are often held incommunicado without access to legal counsel and family members. They are routinely tortured during interrogation to force them to confess to crimes they did not commit or to falsely denounce others. Their trials are usually closed to international press and diplomats and members of the public.

(23)

Vietnam continues to be a source country for the commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor of women and girls and for men and women legally entering into international labor contracts who subsequently face conditions of debt bondage or forced labor, and is a destination country for child trafficking and continues to have internal human trafficking.

(24)

Labor export companies partly or wholly owned by the Ministry of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs, and other agencies of the Government of Vietnam have frequently been identified as participants in human trafficking. There are a number of well-documented cases in which these state enterprises have misled workers by promising specific wages and working conditions, often in the form of signed contracts, only to require the workers to sign different contracts immediately before leaving for their foreign destinations. When workers have protested debt bondage or slavery-like conditions in the foreign workplaces to which these Vietnamese state enterprises have sent them, officials of the Ministry of Labor have traveled from Hanoi to threaten the trafficking victims with punishment under the laws of Vietnam if they do not cease their protests. Workers who have returned to Vietnam after being exploited by their foreign employers have reported being harassed and intimidated by public security forces, who typically accuse them of being liars, collaborating with reactionary forces overseas, and having betrayed their country.

(25)

United States refugee resettlement programs, including the Humanitarian Resettlement Program, the Orderly Departure Program, the Resettlement Opportunities for Vietnamese Returnees Program, general resettlement of boat people from refugee camps throughout Southeast Asia, the Amerasian Homecoming Act of 1988, and the priority one refugee resettlement category have helped resettle nationals of Vietnam who have suffered persecution on account of their associations with the United States as well as nationals of Vietnam who have been persecuted because of race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group.

(26)

While previous programs have served their purposes well, a significant number of eligible refugees from Vietnam were unfairly denied or excluded, including Amerasians and Montagnards, in some cases by vindictive or corrupt officials of Vietnam who controlled access to the programs, and in others by United States personnel who imposed unduly restrictive interpretations of program criteria. In addition, the Government of Vietnam has denied passports to persons whom the United States has found eligible for refugee admission.

(27)

Congress has passed numerous resolutions condemning human rights violations in Vietnam, indicating that although there has been an expansion of relations with the Government of Vietnam, it should not be construed as approval of the ongoing and serious violations of fundamental human rights in Vietnam, particularly those enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, of which Vietnam is a signatory.

(28)

Enhancement of relations between the United States and Vietnam has provided an opportunity for a human rights dialogue, but is unlikely to lead to future progress on human rights issues in Vietnam unless the United States makes clear that such progress is an essential prerequisite for further enhancements in the bilateral relationship.

3.

Purpose

The purpose of this Act is to promote freedom and democracy in Vietnam.

I

Assistance to promote freedom and democracy in Vietnam

101.

Authorization of assistance

The President is authorized to provide assistance, through appropriate nongovernmental organizations and the Human Rights Defenders Fund, for the support of individuals and organizations to promote freedom and democracy in Vietnam.

102.

Authorization of appropriations

(a)

In general

There are authorized to be appropriated to the President to carry out section 101 $2,000,000 for each of the fiscal years 2011 and 2012.

(b)

Other requirements

Amounts appropriated pursuant to the authorization of appropriations under subsection (a)—

(1)

are authorized to remain available until expended; and

(2)

are in addition to amounts otherwise available for such purposes.

II

United States public diplomacy and refugee policy

201.

Radio Free Asia transmissions to Vietnam

(a)

Policy of the united states

It is the policy of the United States to take such measures as are necessary to overcome the jamming of Radio Free Asia by the Government of Vietnam.

(b)

Authorization of appropriations

(1)

In general

There are authorized to be appropriated to the Broadcasting Board of Governors to carry out the policy under subsection (a) $12,5000,000 for fiscal year 2011 and $2,500,000 for fiscal year 2012.

(2)

Other requirements

Amounts appropriated pursuant to the authorization of appropriations under paragraph (1)—

(A)

are authorized to remain available until expended; and

(B)

are in addition to amounts otherwise available for such purposes.

202.

United States educational and cultural exchange programs with Vietnam

It is the policy of the United States that programs of educational and cultural exchange with Vietnam should actively promote progress toward freedom and democracy in Vietnam by providing opportunities to Vietnamese nationals from a wide range of occupations and perspectives to see freedom and democracy in action and, also, by ensuring that Vietnamese nationals who have already demonstrated a commitment to these values are included in such programs.

203.

Refugee resettlement for nationals of Vietnam

(a)

Policy of the united states

It is the policy of the United States to offer refugee resettlement to nationals of Vietnam (including members of the Montagnard ethnic minority groups) who were eligible for the Orderly Departure Program (ODP), the Humanitarian Resettlement (HR) Program, the Resettlement Opportunities for Vietnamese Returnees (ROVR) Program, the Amerasian Homecoming Act of 1988, or any other United States refugee program and who were deemed ineligible due to administrative error or who for reasons beyond the control of such individuals (including insufficient or contradictory information or the inability to pay bribes demanded by officials of the Government of Vietnam) were unable or failed to apply for such programs in compliance with deadlines imposed by the Department of State.

(b)

Authorized activity

Of the amounts authorized to be appropriated to the Department of State for Migration and Refugee Assistance for each of the fiscal years 2011 and 2012, such sums as may be necessary are authorized to be made available for the protection (including resettlement in appropriate cases) of Vietnamese refugees and asylum seekers, including Montagnards and ethnic Khmer in Cambodia and Thailand.

III

Conditions on increased nonhumanitarian assistance to the Government of Vietnam

301.

Conditions

(a)

Conditions

(1)

In general

Except as provided in paragraph (2), the United States Government may not provide nonhumanitarian assistance to the Government of Vietnam during any fiscal year in an amount that is greater than the amount of nonhumanitarian assistance provided by the United States Government to the Government of Vietnam during fiscal year 2010.

(2)

Exception

The United States Government may provide nonhumanitarian assistance to the Government of Vietnam during any fiscal year in an amount that is greater than the amount of nonhumanitarian assistance provided by the United States Government to the Government of Vietnam during fiscal year 2010 but is not greater than twice the amount of nonhumanitarian assistance provided by the United States Government to the Government of Vietnam during fiscal year 2010 if—

(A)

the President certifies to Congress that the United States Government has provided assistance, in addition to assistance authorized under section 102, supporting the creation and facilitation of human rights training, civil society capacity building, noncommercial rule of law programming, and exchange programs between the Vietnamese National Assembly and the United States Congress during the 12-month period ending on the date of the certification in an amount that is not less than the amount of nonhumanitarian assistance provided by the United States Government to the Government of Vietnam during the 12-month period ending on the date of the certification; and

(B)
(i)

with respect to fiscal year 2011, the President certifies to Congress, not later than 30 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, that the requirements of paragraphs (1) through (7) of subsection (b) have been met during the 12-month period ending on the date of the certification; and

(ii)

with respect to subsequent fiscal years, the President certifies to Congress, in the most recent annual report submitted pursuant to section 401, that the requirements of paragraphs (1) through (7) of subsection (b) have been met during the 12-month period covered by the report.

(b)

Requirements

The requirements of this subsection are the following:

(1)

The Government of Vietnam has made substantial progress toward releasing all political and religious prisoners from imprisonment, house arrest, and other forms of detention.

(2)

The Government of Vietnam has made substantial progress toward—

(A)

respecting the right to freedom of religion, including the right to participate in religious activities and institutions without interference, harassment, or involvement of the Government, for all of Vietnam’s diverse religious communities; and

(B)

returning estates and properties confiscated from the churches and religious communities.

(3)

The Government of Vietnam has made substantial progress toward respecting the right to freedom of expression, assembly, and association, including the release of independent journalists, bloggers, and democracy and labor activists.

(4)

The Government of Vietnam has made substantial progress toward repealing or revising laws that criminalize peaceful dissent, independent media, unsanctioned religious activity, and nonviolent demonstrations and rallies, in accordance with international standards and treaties to which Vietnam is a party.

(5)

The Government of Vietnam has made substantial progress toward allowing Vietnamese nationals free and open access to United States refugee programs.

(6)

The Government of Vietnam has made substantial progress toward respecting the human rights of members of all ethnic and minority groups.

(7)

Neither any official of the Government of Vietnam nor any agency or entity wholly or partly owned by the Government of Vietnam was complicit in a severe form of trafficking in persons, or the Government of Vietnam took all appropriate steps to end any such complicity and hold such official, agency, or entity fully accountable for its conduct.

(8)

The Government of Vietnam treats government officials and military personnel of the former Government of South Vietnam with dignity and equality.

(c)

Exception

(1)

Continuation of assistance in the national interest

Notwithstanding the failure of the Government of Vietnam to meet the requirements of paragraphs (1) through (7) of subsection (b), the President may waive the application of subsection (a) for any fiscal year if the President determines that the provision of increased nonhumanitarian assistance to the Government of Vietnam would promote the purpose of this Act or is otherwise in the national interest of the United States.

(2)

Exercise of waiver authority

The President may exercise the authority under paragraph (1) with respect to—

(A)

all United States nonhumanitarian assistance to Vietnam; or

(B)

one or more programs, projects, or activities of such assistance.

302.

Definitions

In this title:

(1)

Nonhumanitarian assistance

The term nonhumanitarian assistance means—

(A)

any assistance under the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (including programs under title IV of chapter 2 of part I of that Act, relating to the Overseas Private Investment Corporation), other than—

(i)

disaster relief assistance, including any assistance under chapter 9 of part I of that Act;

(ii)

assistance which involves the provision of food (including monetization of food) or medicine;

(iii)

assistance for refugees; and

(iv)

assistance to combat HIV/AIDS, including any assistance under section 104A of that Act; and

(B)

sales, or financing on any terms, under the Arms Export Control Act.

(2)

Severe form of trafficking in persons

The term severe form of trafficking in persons means any activity described in section 103(8) of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (Public Law 106–386 (114 Stat. 1470); 22 U.S.C. 7102(8)).

303.

Effective date

The prohibition on the amount of nonhumanitarian assistance to the Government of Vietnam during a fiscal year under section 301 applies with respect to fiscal year 2011 and subsequent fiscal years.

IV

Annual report on freedom and democracy in Vietnam

401.

Annual report

(a)

In general

Not later than 6 months after the date of the enactment of this Act and every 12 months thereafter, the Secretary of State shall submit to the Congress a report on the following:

(1)

The determination and certification of the President that the requirements of paragraphs (1) through (7) of section 301(b) have been met, if applicable.

(2)

Steps taken to carry out section 301(a)(1), if applicable.

(3)

Efforts by the United States Government to secure transmission sites for Radio Free Asia in countries in close geographical proximity to Vietnam in accordance with section 201(a).

(4)

Efforts to ensure that programs with Vietnam promote the policy set forth in section 202 and with section 105 of the Human Rights, Refugee, and Other Foreign Policy Provisions Act of 1996 regarding participation in programs of educational and cultural exchange.

(5)

Steps taken to carry out the policy under section 203(a).

(6)

Lists of persons believed to be imprisoned, detained, or placed under house arrest, tortured, or otherwise persecuted by the Government of Vietnam due to their pursuit of internationally recognized human rights. In compiling such lists, the Secretary shall exercise appropriate discretion, including concerns regarding the safety and security of, and benefit to, the persons who may be included on the lists and their families. In addition, the Secretary shall include a list of such persons and their families who may qualify for protections under United States refugee programs.

(7)

A description of the development of the rule of law in Vietnam, including—

(A)

progress toward the development of institutions of democratic governance;

(B)

processes by which statutes, regulations, rules, and other legal acts of the Government of Vietnam are developed and become binding within Vietnam;

(C)

the extent to which statutes, regulations, rules, administrative and judicial decisions, and other legal acts of the Government of Vietnam are published and are made accessible to the public;

(D)

the extent to which administrative and judicial decisions are supported by statements of reasons that are based upon written statutes, regulations, rules, and other legal acts of the Government of Vietnam;

(E)

the extent to which individuals are treated equally under the laws of Vietnam without regard to citizenship, race, religion, political opinion, or current or former associations;

(F)

the extent to which administrative and judicial decisions are independent of political pressure or governmental interference and are reviewed by entities of appellate jurisdiction; and

(G)

the extent to which laws in Vietnam are written and administered in ways that are consistent with international human rights standards, including the requirements of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

(b)

Contacts with other organizations

In preparing the report under subsection (a), the Secretary shall, as appropriate, seek out and maintain contacts with nongovernmental organizations and human rights advocates (including Vietnamese-Americans and human rights advocates in Vietnam), including receiving reports and updates from such organizations and evaluating such reports. The Secretary shall also seek to consult with the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom for appropriate sections of the report.