HANOI, Vietnam (AP) – A US official said Sunday that while Vietnam has made progress on human rights, it must do more if it is to forge closer economic and security ties with the United States.
Assistant Secretary of State Tom Malinowski told reporters in Hanoi at the end of his five-day visit that the communist government should reform its laws to bring them in full compliance with Vietnam’s 2013 constitution and its international obligations.
Malinowski’s arrival on Tuesday came the same day that Vietnam’s government released prominent blogger Nguyen Van Hai and put him on a flight to the United States. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said Hai had decided himself to travel to the US.
“I made clear that we want to do more to deepen our relationship and we can do more on security cooperation and the TPP,” Malinowski said, referring to the Pacific Rim trade pact the United States, Vietnam and 10 other countries were negotiating. “But we can do this if and only if there’s a demonstrable progress on human rights.”
Malinowski noted that Vietnam had released 12 prisoners of conscience this year, but urged the government not to use vaguely worded security laws to arrest people who peacefully express their views.
“There would not be progress if a dozen people were released and then a dozen more people were arrested,” he said. “So what we stressed about is the need to follow through on the commitments the Vietnamese government has made to fundamentally reform the laws … to bring the country’s laws into full compliance with its 2013 constitution and with its international obligations.”