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TITLE:  VIETNAM HUMAN RIGHTS PRACTICES, 1993                            
DATE:  JANUARY 31, 1994

                        Viet Nam

The Socialist Republic of Vietnam (SRV) is a one-party state 
ruled by the Vietnamese Communist Party (VCP).  A 13-member 
Politburo and a Party Central Committee are nominally elected 
by a party congress held about every 5 years.  The Politburo 
provides guidelines, often in the form of specific directives, 
that shape government policies.  Despite the adoption of a new 
Constitution in 1992 that provides for the rule of law and 
respect for human rights, in practice the Government continued 
to restrict individual rights on national security and other 
grounds.  In addition, the Constitution contains references to 
"democratic centralism" and "the leading role of the Communist 
Party" that have been used to justify limits on civil liberties.

In addition to the military and police force, Vietnamese 
security forces monitor internal movements and activities of 
the general population.  The Ministry of Interior has units 
that monitor persons suspected of involvement in political or 
religious affairs.  Also, government surveillance through 
informants, household registration, and party-appointed block 
wardens continued in 1993.

The Government continued the market-oriented economic reforms 
begun in 1986.  These reforms have boosted Vietnam's 
predominantly agricultural economy and improved the lives of 
Vietnamese citizens.  Goods and services are more widely 
available, and the general population is freer to engage in 
entrepreneurial activity.

Although some senior SRV officials have publicly asserted the 
profound commitment of the Vietnamese people and State to the 
cause of human rights, the Government continued to violate 
human rights in 1993.  The authorities continued to limit 
severely freedom of speech, press, assembly, and association, 
as well as worker rights and the right of citizens to change 
their government.  The Government continued its longstanding 
practice of not tolerating dissent and reacted sharply to 
efforts by Buddhist activists to assert their independence from 
the government-sponsored Buddhist church.  However, 
restrictions on travel eased, and contact with foreigners is 
more widely accepted.  There appears to be increasing 
separation between the party and the State.


Section 1  Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including 
           Freedom from:

     a.  Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing

In 1993 there were no known executions of political prisoners 
or politically motivated extrajudicial killings.  There were 
also no known cases of deaths of political prisoners while in 
detention in 1993.

     b.  Disappearance

There were no documented incidents of political abductions by 
government security organizations or by antigovernment forces.

     c.  Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading 
         Treatment or Punishment

The law prohibits physical abuse, and released reeducation camp 
detainees report that camp conditions have improved since 
1989.  Although there were no credible, consistent reports of 
police brutality during interrogation of suspects, reports of 
severe conditions for those confined in prisons continued.  
There have been reports of coercion to elicit confessions.  
After their release in 1993, American citizens held on 
political grounds reported that they were threatened with 
violence several times in attempts to coerce confessions, 
although they were not actually beaten.

     d.  Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile

In 1993 Vietnam continued to arrest and imprison people 
arbitrarily.  The 1989 Criminal Procedure Code and subsequent 
amendments provide for various rights for detainees, including 
time limits on pretrial detention, the right of the accused to 
be informed of the charges against him or her, a ban on 
coercion or corporal punishment, and the right to have a lawyer 
present during interrogation.  In practice, however, the 
authorities frequently ignore these safeguards.  Credible 
reports indicate that detainees continue to be held 
incommunicado for indefinite periods without formal charges, 
with authorities using old administrative procedures in 
contravention of the new legislation.  The retention and 
continued use of these administrative procedures appear to be a 
deliberate government policy.

The Government continued its efforts to implement Party 
Directive 135, which calls for the arrest of those who incite 
opposition to the Government or advocate political pluralism.  
Some intellectuals, clergy, journalists, and foreigners have 
been arrested and detained.  For example, Doan Viet Hoat, a 
scholar who before 1975 had been Vice President of the Van Hanh 
Buddhist University in Saigon and had been incarcerated in Chi 
Hoa prison from 1976 to 1988, was rearrested in 1990 and in 
March 1993 was sentenced to 20 years for counterrevolutionary 
activity, apparently related to the "Freedom Forum" case.  Dr. 
Hoat is said to be in poor health.  In July the local press 
reported that an Appeals Court had reduced his sentence to 15 

According to reputable international nongovernmental 
organizations (NGO's), Doan Thanh Liem is currently serving a 
12-year labor camp sentence after being convicted of spreading 
anti-Socialist propaganda.  Truong Hung Thai, arrested with 
Liem, continues to serve an 8-year sentence.  Do Ngoc Long, 
also arrested in April 1990, was never tried and was released 
from prison in April 1993 after serving an 3-year 
administrative sentence.  Nguyen Dan Que, sentenced to 20 
years' imprisonment in 1991, was recently transferred to a 
labor camp in Dong Nai Province; he is reportedly in poor 

Legislation designed ostensibly to prevent inordinate delays in 
charging suspects is often, if not routinely, ignored in 
political cases.  In April and May 1992, two American citizens 
of Vietnamese origin were arrested along with numerous 
Vietnamese for attempting to organize two separate political 
movements.  Both were held until 1993 without ever being 
formally charged with a crime.

No official statistics are available on the number of detainees 
held for alleged antigovernment activities, and an accurate 
account is impossible since arrests are not publicized and 
secret detentions, trials, and sentencing are common.

In June 1993, American citizen Nguyen Sy Binh, arrested in 
April 1992 for training members of the "Peoples' Action Party", 
a group he founded, was released from custody and deported.  On 
November 11, four Catholic priests and brothers of the 
Coredemptrix order were released from prison in Vietnam.  
Reverend John Doan Phu Xuan, Reverend Hilary Do Tri Tam, 
Brother Luke Vu Son Ha, and Brother Mark Tran Khac Kinh were 
all freed before the expiration of their sentences.

Search and arrest warrants are provided for in law, but they 
can be issued by branches of the security apparatus without 
judicial review.  Law enforcement and security personnel appear 
to be able to arrest and incarcerate people without presenting 
warrants for their arrest.  Each province and city has a 
"security committee" under direct party control.  This 
committee includes both central and local security officials 
and does not coordinate its activities with the judicial 

Exile is not used as a means of political control.

     e.  Denial of Fair Public Trial

The Vietnamese court system consists of local people's courts, 
military tribunals, and the Supreme Court.  The last may review 
cases from either of the lower courts.  Both the National 
Assembly and State Council have the authority to establish 
special tribunals which may be superior to the Supreme Court.  
In addition, local mass organizations are empowered to deal 
with minor breaches of law or disputes.  Judges in all regular 
courts are appointed after the party organization selects all 
candidates.  Article 130 of the Constitution provides for the 
"independence" of judges and jurors.  However, this is negated 
at all levels by a political system that is closely controlled 
by the VCP and by a selection process that puts a premium on 
political reliability.

The Penal Code consists of the Criminal Code and a Criminal 
Procedures Code, which was amended in 1990.  Vietnam has a 
long-established body of family law but lacks civil law codes.  
There is virtually no evidence that legislative improvements 
promulgated in 1990 have been implemented.

Prison sentences are frequently imposed by administrative 
procedure, without benefit of due process or judicial review.  
In addition, such sentences are imposed on persons for the 
peaceful expression of their views.  The SRV criminalizes 
certain forms of peaceful expression, including, for example, 
"anti-Socialist propaganda."  Over the years people have been 
sentenced to long prison or reeducation camp terms for such 
"crimes."  For example, after a demonstration in May by 
approximately 300 Buddhists, including monks, several Buddhist 
monks were arrested for inciting antigovernment unrest.  The 
Government tried four of the monks in November, and the court 
announced sentences ranging from 6 months to 4 years in prison.

Accurate statistics on the total prison population, including 
pretrial detainees, political prisoners, and persons held 
arbitrarily are not available due to the secrecy surrounding 
these procedures.

     f.  Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or 

In 1993 the Government continued to operate a nationwide system 
of surveillance and control through household registration and 
party-appointed block wardens who use informants to keep track 
of individual activities.  In general, reports suggest that the 
system is unevenly implemented throughout the country and that 
local caprice and corruption are significant factors in its 
application.  Urban dwellers appear to be increasingly relaxed 
about sending mail overseas and meeting foreign visitors.  It 
appears that the Government is combining stricter surveillance, 
designed in part to intimidate potential critics, with some 
relaxation vis-a-vis the general population.  While the 
Government continued to censor mail and confiscate packages in 
1993, it seems to have done so on a more selective basis than 
in the past.

The party expects people to belong to one or more mass 
organizations, which exist for villages, city districts, 
school, work (trade union), youth, and women.  However, these 
organizations--which disseminate party propaganda, support 
party-sanctioned activities, and play a watchdog role--have 
become increasingly ineffectual.

While membership in the VCP remains an aid to advancement in 
the state sector, recruitment of new party members has become 
more difficult, and many older party members have ended their 
participation in party activities.  Membership in the youth 
union--the normal path to VCP membership--has dropped sharply 
over the past few years.

Section 2  Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

     a.  Freedom of Speech and Press

The Constitution provides for freedom of speech and press, but 
in practice such freedoms are severely limited.

A pervasive network of informants chills free speech 
considerably, although the party continued to tolerate (and at 
times invite) criticism concerning its own performance and that 
of persons deemed to be corrupt or incompetent.  Questioning 
the legitimacy of the VCP or its exclusive vanguard role is not 

The Communist Party line and policies are disseminated 
regularly from the Party Central Committee to provinces, 
cities, and districts through memorandums for internal 
distribution only.  Only party members are privy to this 
information, which covers the issues of freedom of speech and 
press for the citizenry and economic policy, as well as party 
interpretations of changes to the status quo (i.e., dynamic 
interpretations to fit current conditions).

Short of clearly proscribed writing, such as advocacy of a 
multiparty system, the limits of criticism are not clear.  Some 
ideas may be expressed in internal party meetings and in 
internally circulated documents but not publicly.  The 
movements and activities of foreign journalists are monitored 
but seldom interfered with.

Criticism is occasionally expressed publicly within established 
forums, such as National Assembly proceedings broadcast over 
the national radio service.  The Government does not use 
systematic prior censorship to control the media, but guidance 
from party watchdogs is pervasive, and national security 
legislation is sufficiently broad to ensure effective 

The Government controls all broadcast media and does not 
normally permit the broadcast of opposing views, though it has 
broadcast reports of debates during National Assembly 
meetings.  In addition to government controlled radio (both 
domestic and international), television stations, and the 
Vietnam news agency wire service, Vietnam has five mass daily 
newspapers and many smaller newspapers.  Party organizations 
and the Ministries of Culture, Information, Sports, and Tourism 
control the newspapers as well as other publications and 
cultural exhibits.  Western and other publications are widely 
available in stores frequented by Vietnamese, without obvious 
restriction on their sale or distribution.

     b.  Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

The right of assembly is restricted in law and practice.  
People wishing to gather in a group are required to apply for a 
permit, which local authorities can issue or deny arbitrarily.  
In practice, large informal gatherings in public, like market 
areas or parts, are commonplace especially in urban areas.  
There is little evidence to suggest that informal public 
gatherings are restricted.  However, demonstrations or meetings 
that could be seen as having a political purpose are not 
permitted and are sometimes forcibly suppressed.  For example, 
the Government refused to permit a conference on democracy that 
was to be held in Ho Chi Minh City in November.  The existence 
of NGO's is permitted, but they may meet only for approved and 
narrowly defined objectives.  Opposition political 
organizations and activities are not permitted.

     c.  Freedom of Religion

Vietnam has no state religion, and adherence to a religion is 
not permitted for party members.  According to some estimates, 
nearly three-fourths of the population of 70 million people are 
Buddhists, but the Government has claimed that only 6 million 
of these actually practice their religion.  The Vatican 
believes that some 6 million Vietnamese are Catholic; a much 
smaller number are Protestant.  Virtually all foreign clergy 
remaining in the south in 1975 were expelled at the end of that 
year.  While the SRV has permitted visits by foreign clergy, it 
has not been willing to permit them to reside permanently for 
religious purposes in Vietnam.

Reports indicate that religious groups are allowed freedom in 
their activities to the degree that they cooperate with the 
Government.  Buddhism was afforded increasing tolerance until 
the Unified Buddhists (An Quang sect) began to protest 
government control through 1992.  The tension increased in 
early 1993 when the arrest and confinement of numbers of 
middle- and low-level leaders sent a clear signal to the 
Buddhist hierarchy that they cannot challenge the Government.

While restrictions on religious organizations are usually 
severe, they vary widely by locality.  This is also true of 
church attendance.  Many people report they have generally been 
free to attend worship services since 1975, and, during the 
past few years, visitors to Vietnam have reported that 
attendance at religious services is growing.  Churches in and 
around Ho Chi Minh City and elsewhere have been observed 
overflowing during Sunday services.  Buddhist temples and 
edifices of the Hoa Hao and Cao Dai sects in several towns of 
the south appear active and prosperous enough to be well 

Freedom of worship is provided for in the Constitution, along 
with the proviso that no one may use religious adherence or 
belief to violate state laws and policies.  The Government, 
concerned that religious groups might become competing centers 
of influence within the society, has consistently attempted to 
divide and control religious groups, in part by establishing 
government-controlled policymaking bodies such as the Catholic 
Patriotic Association to which clergy are obliged to belong.

The Government has also attempted to prevent the growth of 
religious groups by inhibiting the publication of religious 
materials and the training of new clergy.  The Government 
exercises approval authority on the content of speeches and 
sermons by clergy, but reports continue to indicate that 
approval is generally granted as long as the content cannot be 
construed as a challenge to the legitimacy of Vietnam's 
one-party system.  Also, Buddhist monks have reported that 
permission is usually given to young people wishing to study to 
become monks, if they register with the authorities.  Several 
hundred are reported to be enrolled in Buddhist instruction in 
Ho Chi Minh City.

The Government has regularly detained, arrested, and restricted 
the activities of religious figures of all faiths on political 
grounds.  Authorities leveled charges of "possessing and 
disseminating counterrevolutionary propaganda," "fomenting 
unrest," or "anti-Socialist propaganda" against Buddhist monks 
and nuns and Catholic, Protestant, and other religious 
leaders.  A number of Catholic and Buddhist clergy remained in 
prison or confined to home villages.  In September an American 
citizen reported that an informal prayer meeting involving 
approximately 30 Vietnamese and 3 foreigners was broken up by 
the police, who detained the Vietnamese and seized the 
foreigners' passports.  There have been some releases this year 
(see Section 1.d.), and, with the exception of members of the 
An Quang sect, few new arrests.

The Buddhist Patriarch, Thich Huyen Quang of the Unified 
Buddhist Church, has been under house arrest in Quang Ngai 
province since 1982, reportedly because he refuses to submit to 
the government-dominated Vietnam Buddhist Church.  In May, 
after a self-immolation at the Linh Mu Pagoda (supporters of 
Quang) in Hue and the police interrogation of the abbot, Thich 
Tri Tuu, there were large protest demonstrations by Buddhists 
(see Section 1.e.).

Thich Duc Nhuan, a former Secretary General of the Unified 
Buddhist Church, was released in January, after receiving a 
1-year reduction in his sentence.  Vietnam has in recent years 
expanded its dialog with the Vatican.  In 1993, however, the 
Government continued to prevent the return from Rome to his 
archdiocese in Ho Chi Minh City of Archbishop Francis Xavier 
Nguyen Van Thuan (a nephew of Ngo Dinh Diem) to succeed the 
ageing Archbishop Nguyen Van Binh.  In September the Government 
rejected the Vatican's appointment of Bishop Huynh Van Nghi to 
administer the Roman Catholic church in Ho Chi Minh City.  

While the Government now permits Catholic seminarians to be 
admitted to seminaries every 3 years instead of 6, it still 
places sharp limits on the recruitment, training, ordination, 
and assignment of new seminarians, priests, monks, and nuns.  
The selection of both students and teachers is subject to 
government veto, and there are continuing difficulties in 
obtaining teaching materials and in expanding religious 
training facilities.

Father Dominic Tran Dinh Thu, founder of the Mother 
Coredemptrix, was released in May.  He had been sentenced to 
life imprisonment in 1987 for "propagandizing against the 
Socialist system."  In November four more clergy affiliated 
with the Mother Coredemptrix order were freed (see Section 
1.d.).  In 1993 the first foreign religious community received 
government approval to work in Vietnam; Mother Theresa's 
Sisters of Charity began work in Hanoi at the end of the summer.

After a Vatican-based cardinal admonished Vietnamese Catholics 
not to join the government-sponsored union of Vietnamese 
Catholics, observers noted that fewer priests attended the 
annual meeting of this organization.  At last report the only 
Protestant seminary had not been permitted to take in new 
students since 12 were admitted 6 years ago.

Some religious leaders believe that the Government's goal is to 
weaken the churches as a social force by limiting personnel and 
restricting their ability to move their clergy around the 
country.  For example, only 15 priests in Haiphong serve over 
150,000 Catholics there, and no religious women have been 
allowed to establish convents or novitiates there.

Most property of religious institutions remains under 
government control, including temples, churches, convents, 
seminaries, former religious schools, libraries, and 
orphanages.  Sharp restrictions are exercised on the use, 
repair, or extension of those facilities that are returned to 
religious control.

     d.  Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign 
         Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation

During 1993 the Government continued the trend of recent years 
of allowing freer movement within the country for most 
citizens.  Vietnamese are required technically to obtain 
permission to change their residence, but it appears that 
obtaining permission has not been difficult during the past few 
years.  Large numbers have changed residence without official 
permission, apparently without adverse consequences.  Areas 
that have previously been off-limits to foreigners were 
reportedly opened.  Since April 1, foreigners have been 
permitted to travel without permits to all areas except 
islands, border, or highland areas.

Private travel abroad is usually restricted to 3 months, except 
travel for education or medical treatment.  Violators of this 
limitation may be barred from further travel for 3 to 5 years.

The Government continued its program of relocating people into 
sparsely populated New Economic Zones (NEZ's), but we have no 
reports that these relocations are forcible.  There are reports 
of some people voluntarily moving to the NEZ's to gain access 
to land or remaining in the NEZ's to which they were sent 
earlier.  The state-run radio has said that, of more than 2 
million people who were moved from their homes in cities or 
crowded areas, only a quarter had substantially improved their 
living standards.  The report admitted that many of the NEZ's 
were unfinished or short of basic facilities.  The Government's 
rationale for relocating people to the NEZ's is to reduce urban 
crowding, exploit little-used land, and thereby help develop 
the economy.  There have been no reports in recent years of 
banishment to the NEZ's as a form of punishment.

The Government continued to permit emigration for family 
reunification and for Amerasian Vietnamese and their close 
family members.  The U.S. Orderly Departure Program, including 
Amerasians, former reeducation detainees, and family 
unification cases, continued to resettle beneficiaries at the 
rate of about 4,700 persons per month; a total of 57,000 
immigrants and refugees in 1993.  Other nations operate smaller 
resettlement programs for Vietnamese nationals.  There are some 
concerns that members of minority ethnic groups, particularly 
highland peoples, might not have ready access to these 
programs.  Vietnamese who emigrate are generally free to 
return.  The Government regards overseas Vietnamese both as a 
valuable potential source of foreign exchange and expertise and 
as a potential security threat.  Thus, the Government generally 
grants visas to overseas Vietnamese and encourages them to 
visit Vietnam, whether they emigrated legally or had been 
granted permanent resettlement after illegal departures from 
Vietnam.  At the same time the public security police monitor 
them, especially those who come under suspicion as a result of 
their actions or associations.  During 1993 some overseas 
Vietnamese were arrested, detained, and deported for activities 
deemed to be subversive, as described in Section 1.d.

In 1988 Vietnam signed a memorandum of understanding with the 
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to 
increase acceptance of voluntary repatriates, provided there 
was financial assistance.  This agreement included a commitment 
by Vietnam to waive prosecution and punitive measures for 
illegal departure from Vietnam of persons who return under the 
UNHCR voluntary repatriation program.  Vietnam also agreed to 
permit the UNHCR to monitor the returnees through direct 
visits.  This agreement has resulted in a substantial flow of 
repatriates from several countries back to the SRV.  Although 
there were suspicions that Vietnamese who decided to repatriate 
to Vietnam voluntarily would face discrimination, the evidence 
indicates they do not.  More than 55,000 Vietnamese have 
returned voluntarily.  The UNHCR, which monitors them 
extensively after they return, says they do not face 
retribution or discrimination.

Although the source of refugees itself, Vietnam has also been 
the country of first asylum for between 15,000 and 20,000 
Cambodian refugees (mainly ethnic Chinese) who have fled to 
Vietnam since 1975.  Repatriation of these refugees, who have 
been cared for by the UNHCR in well-organized camps, began in 
1992.  Atrocities committed against ethnic Vietnamese residents 
of Cambodia resulted in substantial refugee flows into Vietnam 
in 1993.  The SRV has moved to absorb ethnic Vietnamese 
refugees from Cambodia, and there have been no reports of 
political problems.  Some 30,000 are receiving international 

Section 3  Respect for Political Rights:  The Right of Citizens 
           to Change Their Government

Citizens are not free to change their government.  All 
authority and political power is vested in the VCP; political 
opposition and other political parties are not tolerated.

The Central Committee of the VCP is the supreme decisionmaking 
body in the nation; its 13-member Politburo is the locus of 
policymaking.  The Secretariat of the Central Committee 
oversees day-to-day implementation of leadership directives.  
Debate and criticism is limited to certain aspects of 
individual, state, or party performance determined by the party 
itself.  No challenge to the legitimacy of the one-party state, 
or even debate on this subject, is permitted.

Citizens elect members of the National Assembly, ostensibly the 
chief legislative body, but it is still constrained by party 
guidance.  The 395 delegates were elected in the summer of 
1992.  Candidates for the National Assembly election were 
carefully screened, and credible reports indicate that many 
people who wished to become candidates were not permitted to 
run because their views were not considered reliable.  Although 
candidates are screened by party front groups, they are not 
required to be party members themselves, and multiple 
candidates contest each seat.

The law provides for equal participation in politics by women 
and minority groups, but in practice minority groups and women 
are underrepresented.  The Government has claimed that women 
hold 46 percent of the senior posts in government and that 18 
percent of the members of the Ninth National Assembly are 
women.  A woman was elected Vice President of the country in 
1992.  The most senior leadership, however, is predominately 
male as can be seen, for example, in the all-male Politburo and 
Council of Ministers.  

Section 4  Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 
           Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations 
           of Human Rights

Vietnam does not permit private human rights organizations to 
form or operate.  Moreover, it generally prohibits private 
citizens from contacting international human rights 
organizations.  Since 1989, however, the Vietnamese Red Cross 
has been permitted expanded cooperation with the American Red 
Cross in assisting persons seeking missing relatives, including 
those in reeducation centers.  The SRV has permitted 
international visitors to monitor implementation of its 
repatriation commitments under the Comprehensive Plan of Action 
and carried on a limited dialog with human rights 
organizations.  The SRV has allowed some human rights 
organizations to visit.  For example, it received a delegation 
from the U.S.-based human rights group Asia Watch.  In 
addition, the SRV has shown some willingness to discuss human 
rights issues bilaterally with other governments if such 
discussions take place under the rubric of "exchanges of ideas" 
rather than "investigations."  The SRV refused, however, to 
grant a U.S. Senator access to Nguyen Dan Que (see Section 

The Government has on occasion granted consular access to 
third-country nationals imprisoned in Vietnam.  In November SRV 
authorities for the first time allowed a U.S. consular official 
to visit an American citizen in a Vietnamese prison.

Section 5  Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, 
           Disability, Language, or Social Status

Varying levels of discrimination have been reported by people 
released from reeducation camps in the areas of housing or 
education.  Those released from reeducation camps generally are 
not eligible to regain their citizenship rights until 1 year 
after their release date.  They and their families are not 
allowed employment with the Government, which restricts their 
access to housing and other benefits given to state employees.

Priority in social services is given to families of party 
members and families of soldiers who fought for the 
Government.  Testing standards of university entrance 
examinations are reportedly lower for children of party 
officials.  Arbitrarily high standards are set to keep the 
children of suspect background out of a university.  Study 
abroad is also restricted to politically acceptable persons.


In general women do not appear to face discrimination in 
employment and are treated equally under the law.  However, 
they face problems competing with men for higher status 
positions owing to attitudes deeply ingrained in traditional 
Vietnamese society.  Such problems persist in spite of 
government efforts to mold popular attitudes to conform with 
the Constitution, legislation, and regulations mandating equal 
treatment before the law in virtually all respects.  Article 63 
of the new Constitution provides that women and men receive 
equal pay for equal work, and a large body of legislation and 
regulations is devoted to the protection of women's rights in 
marriage as well as in the workplace.  Government statistics 
indicate that approximately 50 percent of the primary school 
students are girls and that women represent about 39 percent of 
university students.

Although Vietnamese law does address the issue of domestic 
violence, there is no information readily available on how 
comprehensive the law is in this area.  Limited anecdotal 
evidence indicates that violence occurs (although its extent is 
unclear) and that law enforcement is somewhat limited.  There 
are no official or unofficial statistics on domestic abuse.


Reputable international NGO's reported that the Government's 
interest in children's issues and promoting child welfare was 
commendable.  For example, the Government began a nationwide 
immunization campaign for children.  

     National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

Gradual assimilation appears to be the Government's long-term 
strategy for ethnic minorities.  A member of a northern 
highland minority is currently serving as President of the 
National Assembly.  The Government has created special schools 
in the Hanoi area for the education and indoctrination of 
members of minorities to be the "eyes and ears of the party" 
among their own people.  Highland minorities in central Vietnam 
are subject to repression if suspected of ties with resistance 
groups.  Officially programmed resettlement of ethnic 
Vietnamese into the highlands is designed in part to increase 
government control over minority groups.  At the same time, the 
Government appears to be trying to narrow the gap in the 
standard of living between highlanders and lowland ethnic 

     People with Disabilities

There is little official protection or government support for 
the disabled, and, apparently, no laws mandating access for the 

Section 6  Worker Rights

     a.  The Right of Association

Vietnamese workers are not free to form or join unions of their 
own choosing.  If working for the state sector, all workers 
automatically become members of the union in their workplace, 
and dues are deducted from their pay.  These unions are 
organized by the Party and belong to the Party-controlled 
Confederation of Vietnamese Workers (CVW).  Strikes are 
considered unpatriotic and are officially forbidden.  
Nonetheless, authorities have tolerated a few peaceful strikes 
at foreign-owned factories.

     b.  The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively

Vietnamese workers do not have the right to organize unions of 
their own choosing or to bargain collectively.  However, the 
Chairman of the CVW is empowered by legislation to attend 
conferences of the Council of Ministers and raise issues on 
behalf of labor that cannot be resolved at lower levels.  SRV 
officials have stated that wages are set by a bureaucratic 
system and that the wage scales provided for existing state 
corporations are also imposed on newly formed enterprises.  
With a growing private sector, local market forces played a 
greater role in wage determination.  The question of antiunion 
discrimination on the part of employers against employees 
seeking to organize does not arise.

     c.  Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

Compulsory labor is permitted by the Constitution, which states 
in Article 80 that "citizens must pay taxes and labor in the 
common interest as provided by law."  Refugees report that 
every Vietnamese citizen is required by law to contribute 15 
days of work per year to the State or pay a fee.  A number of 
government projects have used forced labor provided by 
reeducation camp prisoners.

     d.  Minimum Age for Employment of Children

According to regulations inherited from the former French 
colonial administration, the minimum age for employment of 
workers is 17.  There is no reliable information concerning the 
enforcement of these regulations, but refugees report that they 
are not enforced.  There are no statistics available on the 
number of child workers in Vietnam.  Refugees report that 
children under 15 are exempt from compulsory labor 
requirements.  Compulsory elementary education laws exist but 
appear to be honored mostly in the breach for the children of 
the poor.  Vietnamese culture holds education in high regard, 
however, and families send their children to school if they can 
afford to do so.

     e.  Acceptable Conditions of Work

The Government adopted the former French colonial 
administration's system of regulations pertaining to working 
conditions, including a minimum wage; a maximum workday of 8 
hours; a workweek of 6 days; and safety standards.  Existing 
standards do not appear to be widely enforced.  Wages are 
generally low in Vietnam, inadequate to provide the cast 
majority of workers and their families a decent living.  The 
minimum wage for employees at joint venture (Vietnamese and 
foreign) companies is $35 per month (VN Dong 367,500), which is 
higher than the average wage paid by Vietnamese firms.  In 
August workers at a foreign-owned factory staged a peaceful 
strike for improved labor conditions, which was tolerated by 
the authorities.

Vietnamese unions are not legally free to, and do not in 
practice, join, affiliate with, or participate in international 
labor bodies.  However, in 1992, the SRV rejoined the 
International Labor Organization, from which it had withdrawn 
as a member state in 1985.

[end of document]


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