Legislation on human rights issues in Vietnam was passed by the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said Rep. Chris Smith (NJ-04) author of the legislation, the Vietnam Human Rights Act of 2013.
The bill was approved in a unanimous voice vote of the full Committee.
Smith's Vietnam bill, H.R. 1897, would institute measures to improve human rights in Vietnam by prohibiting any increase in non-humanitarian assistance to the Government of Vietnam above Fiscal Year 2012 levels unless the government makes substantial progress in establishing a democracy and promoting human rights. The bill aims for improvement in freedom of religion (and releasing all religious prisoners), rights to freedom of expression, assembly and association, the release of all political prisoners, independent journalists, and labor activists, and to end any government complicity in human trafficking.
"Brazen human rights violations by the hands of the Vietnamese Government continue against its own people," Smith said, noting an April 11 congressional hearing that detailed widespread abuses, as well as government officials' involvement in trafficking Vietnamese women to Russia, Jordan and other locations. "The powerful testimony before Congress showed widespread religious, political and ethnic human rights abuse, and that Vietnamese Government officials are complicit in human trafficking. Vietnam, in fact, continues to be among the worst violators of religious freedom in the world," Smith said, noting the rights and freedoms of Buddhists, Catholics, Protestants and other faiths are routinely trampled upon by the government.