Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-San Jose) has introduced the Fostering Rights through Economic Engagement in Vietnam ("FREE Vietnam") Act, a bipartisan bill cosponsored by five Members of Congress that would bar Vietnam from enjoying special U.S. trade preferences until the country's communist government takes serious measures to curb human rights abuses.
Despite consistent pressure from Congress and human rights organizations, the Vietnamese government continues to violate its international human rights obligations, even those rights granted under its very own constitution. H.R. 1682, the FREE Vietnam Act, prohibits Vietnam from participating in the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program as long as it continues to engage in repressive behavior, denying basic human freedoms to individuals in Vietnam.
"The Vietnamese government continues to oppress its own people, continues to arrest and harass peaceful advocates for democracy, and evens allows its citizens to fall prey to human trafficking," said Rep. Lofgren. "By tying coveted trade preferences to improving human rights for its citizens, the FREE Vietnam Act gives us a tool to send a strong message to the Vietnamese government that continued human rights violations will not be tolerated."
A similar bill was introduced by Rep. Lofgren in the 112th Congress. As introduced, the bill's original co-sponsors include Reps. Frank Wolf (R-VA), Loretta Sanchez (D-CA), Brad Sherman (D-CA), Susan Davis (D-CA) and Gerry Connolly (D-VA).