H. R. 1410
To promote freedom and democracy in Vietnam.
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
April 7, 2011
Mr. SMITH of New Jersey (for himself, Mr. WOLF, Ms. ZOE LOFGREN of California,
Ms. LORETTA SANCHEZ of California, and Mr. ROYCE) introduced the following
bill; which was referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs
To promote freedom and democracy in Vietnam.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United
States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE; TABLE OF CONTENTS.
(a) Short Title- This Act may be cited as the `Vietnam Human Rights Act of
(b) Table of Contents- The table of contents for this Act is as follows:
Sec. 1. Short title; table of contents.
Sec. 2. Findings and purpose.
Sec. 3. Prohibition on increased nonhumanitarian assistance to the Government
Sec. 4. Assistance to support democracy in Vietnam.
Sec. 5. United States public diplomacy.
Sec. 6. Refugee resettlement for nationals of Vietnam.
SEC. 2. FINDINGS AND PURPOSE.
(a) Findings- Congress finds the following:
(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 two countries reaching over $15,300,000,000
(2) The Government of Vietnam's transition toward greater economic freedom
and trade has not been matched by greater political freedom and substantial
improvements in basic human rights for Vietnamese citizens, 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) Vietnam remains a one-party state, ruled and controlled by the Communist
Party of Vietnam (CPV), which continues to deny the right of citizens to
change their Government.
(5) Although in recent years the National Assembly of Vietnam has played
an increasingly active role as a forum for highlighting local concerns,
corruption, and inefficiency, the National Assembly remains subject to the
direction of the CPV and the CPV maintains control over the selection of
candidates in national and local elections.
(6) The Government of Vietnam forbids public challenge to the legitimacy
of the one-party state, restricts freedoms of opinion, the press, and association
and tightly limits access to the Internet and telecommunication.
(7) Since Vietnam's accession to the WTO on January 11, 2007, the Government
of Vietnam arbitrarily arrested and imprisoned numerous individuals for
their peaceful advocacy of religious freedom, democracy, and human rights,
including Father Nguyen Van Ly, human rights lawyers Nguyen Van Dai, Le
Thi Cong Nhan, Cu Huy Ha Vu, and Le Cong Dinh, and bloggers Nguyen Van Hai
and Phan Thanh Hai.
(8) The Government of Vietnam continues to detain, imprison, place under
house arrest, convict, or otherwise restrict persons for the peaceful expression
of dissenting political or religious views.
(9) The Government of Vietnam has also failed to improve labor rights, continues
to arrest and harass labor leaders, and restricts the right to organize
(10) The Government of Vietnam continues to limit the freedom of religion,
restrict the operations of independent religious organizations, and persecute
believers whose religious activities the Government regards as a potential
threat to its monopoly on power.
(11) Despite reported progress in church openings and legal registrations
of religious venues, the Government of Vietnam has halted most positive
actions since the Department of State lifted the `country of particular
concern' (CPC) designation for Vietnam in November 2006.
(12) Unregistered ethnic minority Protestant congregations, particularly
Montagnards in the Central Northwest highlands, suffer severe abuses because
of actions by the Government of Vietnam, which have included forced renunciations
of faith, arrest and harassment, the withholding of social programs provided
for the general population, confiscation and destruction of property, subjection
to severe beatings, and reported deaths.
(13) There has been a pattern of violent responses by the Government to
peaceful prayer vigils and demonstrations by Catholics for the return of
Government-confiscated church properties. Protesters have been harassed,
beaten, and detained and church properties have been destroyed. Catholics
also continue to face some restrictions on selection of clergy, the establishment
of seminaries and seminary candidates, and individual cases of travel and
(14) In May 2010 the village of Con Dau, a Catholic parish in Da Nang, faced
escalated violence during a funeral procession as police attempted to prohibit
a religious burial in the village cemetery; more than 100 villagers were
injured, 62 were arrested, and at least three died.
(15) The Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam (UBCV) suffers persecution as
the Government of Vietnam continues to restrict contacts and movement of
senior UBCV clergy for refusing to join the state-sponsored Buddhist organization,
the Government restricts expression and assembly, and the Government continues
to harass and threaten UBCV monks, nuns, and youth leaders.
(16) The Government of Vietnam continues to suppress the activities of other
religious adherents, including Cao Dai and Hoa Hao Buddhists who lack official
recognition or have chosen not to affiliate with the state-sanctioned groups,
including through the use of detention, imprisonment, and strict Government
(17) During Easter weekend in April 2004, thousands of Montagnards 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, injured, or went into hiding, and that others
were killed. Many of these Montagnards and others are still serving long
sentences for their involvement in peaceful demonstrations in 2001, 2002,
2004, and 2008. Montagnards continue to face threats, detention, beatings,
forced renunciation of faith, property destruction, restricted movement,
and reported deaths at the hands of Government officials.
(18) 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 activities, some Government officials continue to
deny or ignore additional applications for registration, and to persecute
churches and believers who do not wish to affiliate with Government-controlled
(19) In 2007, the Government of Vietnam arrested, beat, and defrocked several
ethnic Khmer Buddhists in response to a peaceful religious protest. The
Government continues to restrict Khmer Krom expression, assembly, association,
and controls all religious organizations and prohibits most peaceful protests.
(20) 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
(21) People arrested in Vietnam because of their political or religious
affiliations and activities often are not accorded due legal process as
they lack full access to lawyers of their choice, may experience closed
trials, have often been detained for years without trial, and have been
subjected to the use of torture to admit crimes they did not commit or to
falsely denounce their own leaders.
(22) Vietnam continues to be a source country for the commercial sexual
exploitation and forced labor of women and girls, as well as 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.
(23) Although the Government of Vietnam reports progress in combating human
trafficking, it does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the
elimination of trafficking, and is not making substantial efforts to comply.
(24) United States refugee resettlement programs, including the Humanitarian
Resettlement (HR) Program, the Orderly Departure Program (ODP), Resettlement
Opportunities for Vietnamese Returnees (ROVR) 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 rescue Vietnamese nationals who have suffered persecution on
account of their associations with the United States or, in many cases,
because of such associations by their spouses, parents, or other family
members, as well as other Vietnamese nationals who have been persecuted
because of race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership
in a particular social group.
(25) While previous programs have served their purposes well, a significant
number of eligible refugees from Vietnam were unfairly denied or excluded,
including Amerasians, in some cases by vindictive or corrupt Vietnamese
officials 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 who the United States has found eligible for refugee admission.
(26) Congress has passed numerous resolutions condemning human rights abuses
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.
(b) Purpose- The purpose of this Act is to promote the development of freedom
and democracy in Vietnam.
SEC. 3. PROHIBITION ON INCREASED NONHUMANITARIAN ASSISTANCE TO THE GOVERNMENT
(1) IN GENERAL- Except as provided in subsection (b), the Federal Government
may not provide nonhumanitarian assistance to the Government of Vietnam
during any fiscal year in an amount that exceeds the amount of such assistance
provided during fiscal year 2011 unless--
(A) the Federal Government provides assistance, in addition to the assistance
authorized under section 4, 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 at levels commensurate
with, or exceeding, any increases in nonhumanitarian assistance to Vietnam;
(B) with respect to the limitation for fiscal year 2012, the President
determines and certifies to Congress, not later than 30 days after the
date of the enactment of this Act, that the requirements of subparagraphs
(A) through (G) of paragraph (2) have been met during the 12-month period
ending on the date of the certification; and
(C) with respect to the limitation for subsequent fiscal years, the President
determines and certifies to Congress, in the most recent annual report
submitted pursuant to section 601, that the requirements of subparagraphs
(A) through (G) of paragraph (2) have been met during the 12-month period
covered by the report.
(2) REQUIREMENTS- The requirements of this paragraph are the following:
(A) The Government of Vietnam has made substantial progress toward releasing
all political and religious prisoners from imprisonment, house arrest,
and other forms of detention.
(B) The Government of Vietnam has made substantial progress toward--
(i) 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
(ii) returning estates and properties confiscated from the churches
and religious communities.
(C) 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
(D) 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.
(E) The Government of Vietnam has made substantial progress toward allowing
Vietnamese nationals free and open access to United States refugee programs.
(F) The Government of Vietnam has made substantial progress toward respecting
the human rights of members of all ethnic and minority groups.
(G) 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.
(1) CONTINUATION OF ASSISTANCE IN THE NATIONAL INTEREST- Notwithstanding
the failure of the Government of Vietnam to meet the requirements of subsection
(a)(2), the President may waive the application of subsection (a) for any
fiscal year if the President determines that the provision to the Government
of Vietnam of increased nonhumanitarian assistance 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.
(c) Definitions- In this section:
(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 FORMS 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
(d) Effective Date- This section shall take effect on the date of the enactment
of this Act and shall apply with respect to the provision of nonhumanitarian
assistance to the Government of Vietnam during fiscal year 2012 and subsequent
SEC. 4. ASSISTANCE TO SUPPORT DEMOCRACY IN VIETNAM.
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 internationally recognized human rights in Vietnam.
SEC. 5. UNITED STATES PUBLIC DIPLOMACY.
(a) Radio Free Asia Transmissions to Vietnam- 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) 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.
SEC. 6. REFUGEE RESETTLEMENT FOR NATIONALS OF VIETNAM.
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.
SEC. 7. 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 subparagraphs (A) through (G) of section 3(a)(2) have been met, if applicable.
(2) Steps taken to carry out section 3(a)(1)(A), 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 5(a).
(4) Efforts to ensure that programs with Vietnam promote the policy set
forth in section 5(b) and with section 102 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 6.
(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
(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.