Some foreign organisations have recently made false allegations against Vietnam on issues related to civil and political rights by restricting freedom of speech and Internet use in the country. But the truth is out there. A commentary by the Voice of Vietnam (VOV).
After the Vietnamese security agency arrested some people on charges of “abusing democratic freedoms to infringe upon the interests of the State, the legitimate rights and interests of organizations and/or citizens”, some bloggers and international organizations slandered Vietnam for applying regulations on national security which limit people in exercising civil and political rights, rights to freedom of speech and using internet. More ridiculously, they called on Vietnam to free these violators.
Freedom in a broad sense and more specifically freedom of speech and expression are the most fundamental human rights. International legal documents including the 1948 “Universal Declaration on Human Rights” and the 1966 “International Convention on Civil and Political Rights” stated that respecting and ensuring these rights is the prerequisite and motivation for the development of a society without discrimination of political regime and development levels. Vietnam, an active member of international conventions on human rights, has applied several international standards to develop a system of legal documents on human rights. Article 69 of the 1992 Constitution states that citizens have the right to freedom of speech and press.
International law stipulates the need to ensure the right to freedom of speech for citizens and that individual rights can be limited. The 1948 Universal Declaration on Human Rights states that in the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society”. The 1966 International Convention on Civil and Political Rights stipulates that “the exercise of the right to freedom of speech is accompanied by particular obligations and responsibilities. So certain limitations are applied in respect of the rights and prestige of others and defending national security or public order”. Therefore, the stipulation of the right to freedom of speech in the 1992 Constitution by the Vietnamese State is obviously constitutional. The 1999 Criminal Code stipulates particular regulations on the right to freedom of speech in Article 88 and 258, which is completely in line with international practice. Therefore, when defending those who have been arrested according to Article 88 and 258 of the Vietnam Criminal Code, bloggers and international organisations including the Human Rights Watch and the Reporters Without Borders should be aware that these people violated Vietnam law. The law strictly dealt with these people on charges of abusing democratic freedoms to infringe upon the interests of the State, the legitimate rights and interests of organizations and/or citizens, but not of criticising the government or being the fighters for democracy and human rights in Vietnam as these organisations have slandered.
International organisations including the Human Rights Watch and the Reporters Without Borders have taken advantage of arrest according to Article 88 and 258 of the Criminal Code to distort the reality of human rights and freedom of speech in Vietnam. These organisations need to make objective statements instead of upholding law violators who abused the democratic freedoms to distort State policies, smearing the image of a developing Vietnam under the cover of bloggers. It’s important to reiterate that Vietnamese people’s civil and political rights and right to freedom of speech and internet are ensured in the legal system and in everyday practice. The right to freedom of speech is inseparable from the citizens’ obligation. Everyone in Vietnam as well as in other countries have to obey the Constitution and law. No organisation and/or individual is outside the legal system. This is what all nations including Vietnam need to implement to ensure the rule of law, including the law on human rights.