Ranking Member Eni Faleomavaega of the Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific on June 27th expressed disappointment with the mark-up by the US House of Representatives’ Foreign Affairs Committee of H.R. 1897, the Viet Nam Human Rights Act of 2013.
Faleomavaega’s press release showed his disappointment with both the way the bill was adopted and its motivation. The measure was packaged together with three other measures so that no separate vote was taken. Instead, all four measures were passed together by unanimous consent with no recorded vote count.
He noted that the act does not show the tradition of the US and reflects the human rights situation in Viet Nam in an accurate manner.
“Regrettably, the information put forward by the Viet Nam Human Rights Act of 2013 does not paint a true or accurate picture of Viet Nam,” Faleomavaega said.
“Viet Nam leaders are fully committed to advancing US-Viet Nam relations and promoting human rights. Viet Nam is party to almost all core international human rights treaties. Viet Nam is engaged in human rights dialogue with the European Union, Australia, Norway, Switzerland, and the US. And Viet Nam is improving its human rights records by strengthening its legal system, economic, social and cultural rights. The Viet Nam I know welcomes international assistance for the implementation of human rights policies,” he said.
According to the US parliamentarian, the measure continues to be heavily influenced by the Vietnamese-American community.
“As a Vietnam Veteran, I empathise with those from the Vietnamese-American community who are still hurting. But toppling governments and putting out information that is not accurate is not the right way forward. The United States has a long and proud history of moving beyond war and re-building and strengthening relations with those with who we once fought and, in the case of Viet Nam, it is time to put the past in the past and for healing to begin,” he said in his release.
Faleomavaega also spoke highly of Congresswoman Barbara Lee’s H.R. 2519, a bill to provide assistance for those affected by exposure to Agent Orange.
“I am an original cosponsor of this bill because I believe the US must be responsible for cleaning up the mess we left behind when we sprayed more than 11 million gallons of Agent Orange in Vietnam, exposing innocent civilians, including men, women and children, to dioxin – a toxic contaminant known to be one of the deadliest chemicals made by man. Any Member of Congress truly committed to human rights will agree that this is a human rights issue that must be addressed,” he said.
The Viet Nam Human Rights Act of 2013 urges the US Administration to not provide non-humanitarian assistance to Viet Nam based on one-way reports on Vietnam’s human rights situation and calls for renaming Viet Nam in the list of “country of particular concern” (CPC).
This is not the first time some US parliamentarians have attempted to create a bill on Viet Nam’s human rights. Some years ago, similar bills were only adopted by the House of Representatives and refused by the Senate./.