The right of association one of Vietnamese citizens fundamental rights stated in the Constitution is implemented widely. Accusations that Vietnam violates this right are groundless and biased
Vietnam respects right of association (Photo: tuyengiao.vn)
This week, a court in Hanoi ruled that Nguyen Van Dai and his accomplices have taken advantage of the fight for “democracy, human rights, and civil society” to conceal the purpose of their group called “the Brotherhood for Democracy.”
Some out-of-tune opinions are raising the issue of Vietnam’s freedom of speech and association, while a bill on association is being debated in the country.
“Civil space” protected
A civil space for society exists in Vietnam. Though the Law on Association has not yet been finalized, many associations and civil groups already operate.
By the end of last year, Vietnam had a total of 68,000 associations working in humanitarian aid, training, health services, sports, and environmental protection. Nobody obstructs the establishment of an association or its operation, unless it violates the law.
The right of association has been acknowledged in Vietnam’s Constitution since Vietnam gained independence in 1945. Article 10 of the 1946 Constitution states that Vietnamese citizens have the right to freedom of speech, publication, assembly, association, as well as freedom of belief, residency, and traveling inside and outside the country.
Article 25 of the 1959 Constitution says, “Citizens of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam enjoy freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, freedom of association, and freedom of demonstration. The state guarantees all necessary material conditions for citizens to enjoy these freedoms."
Article 67 of the 1980 Constitution states that citizens have the right to freedom of speech, press, association, assembly, and demonstration in line with the interests of socialism and the people. Article 69 of the 1992 Constitution says citizens have the right to freedom of speech, press, being informed, association, assembly, and demonstration in line with the law.
According to Article 25 of the 2013 Constitution, citizens have the right to freedom of speech, press, information, assembly, association, and demonstration.
Abusing freedom of assembly to oppose Vietnam is against the law
Vietnam has a large number of associations, organizations, and groups because the State has worked to maximize citizens’ legitimate rights, including the freedom of association in line with the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Vietnam is a signatory.
Article 22 of the convention states, “Everyone shall have the right to freedom of association with others, including the right to form and join trade unions for the protection of his interests.”
But the article’s provision 2 stipulates, “No restrictions may be placed on the exercise of this right other than those which are prescribed by law and which are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security or public safety, public order, the protection of public health or morals or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.” Vietnam’s Penal Code clearly defines violations of citizens’ rights.
Obviously, the establishment of associations will not be allowed if it harms national interests or the rights and freedoms of others. Vietnam’s Constitution and law respect freedom of association and no one will be restricted if their association benefits the people and their interests.
But the establishment of independent organizations which oppose the organizations in Vietnam’s political system runs counter to the interests of the people and violates Vietnamese law.
Some inpiduals touted as “political activists” or “prisoners of conscience” are truly law violators who have undergone public trials in accordance with Vietnam’s Penal Code. Reports of Vietnam’s human rights crackdown have distorted the fact that Vietnam protects the right of association.