HR 2833 IH

107th CONGRESS

1st Session
H. R. 2833
To promote freedom and democracy in Viet Nam.


IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

September 5, 2001



Mr. SMITH of New Jersey introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on International Relations, and in addition to the Committee on Financial Services, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned

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A BILL


To promote freedom and democracy in Viet Nam.


Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE; TABLE OF CONTENTS.

(a) SHORT TITLE- This Act may be cited as the `Viet Nam Human Rights Act'.

(b) TABLE OF CONTENTS- The table of contents for this Act is as follows:

Sec. 1. Short title; table of contents.

TITLE I--GENERAL PROVISIONS

Sec. 101. Findings.

Sec. 102. Purpose.

TITLE II--PROMOTION OF FREEDOM AND DEMOCRACY IN VIET NAM

Subtitle A--Prohibition on Nonhumanitarian Assistance to the Government of Viet Nam

Sec. 201. Bilateral nonhumanitarian assistance.

Sec. 202. Multilateral nonhumanitarian assistance.

Subtitle B--Assistance to Support Democracy in Viet Nam

Sec. 211. Assistance.

Subtitle C--United States Public Diplomacy

Sec. 221. Radio Free Asia transmissions to Viet Nam.

Sec. 222. United States educational and cultural exchange programs with Viet Nam.

Subtitle D--United States Refugee Policy

Sec. 232. Refugee resettlement for nationals of Viet Nam.

Subtitle E--Annual Report on Progress Toward Freedom and Democracy in Viet Nam

Sec. 241. Annual report.

TITLE I--GENERAL PROVISIONS

SEC. 101. FINDINGS.

Congress finds the following:

(1) Viet Nam is a one-party state, ruled and controlled by the Vietnamese Communist Party.

(2) The Government of Viet Nam denies the people of Viet Nam the right to change their government and prohibits independent political, social, and labor organizations.

(3)(A) The Government of Viet Nam consistently pursues a policy of harassment, discrimination, and intimidation, and sometimes of imprisonment and other forms of detention, against those who peacefully express dissent from government or party policy.

(B) Recent victims of such mistreatment, which violates the rights to freedom of expression and association recognized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, include Dr. Nguyen Dan Que, Dr. Nguyen Thanh Giang, General Tran Do, Most Venerable Thich Huyen Quang, Most Venerable Thich Quang Do, Father Nguyen Van Ly, numerous leaders of the Hoa Hao Buddhist Church and of independent Protestant churches, and an undetermined number of members of the Montagnard ethnic minority groups who participated in peaceful demonstrations in the Central Highlands of Viet Nam during February 2001.

(4) The Government of Viet Nam systematically deprives its citizens of the fundamental right to freedom of religion. Although some freedom of worship is permitted, believers are forbidden to participate in religious activities except under circumstances rigidly defined and controlled by the government:

(A) In 1999 the Government issued a Decree Concerning Religious Activities, which declared in pertinent part that `[a]ll activities using religious belief in order to oppose the State of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam, to prevent the believers from carrying out civic responsibilities, to sabotage the union of all the people, to against the healthy culture of our nation, as well as superstitious activities, will be punished in conformity with the law'.

(B) The Unified Buddhist Church of Viet Nam (UCBV), the largest religious denomination in the country, has been declared illegal by the Government, and over the last twenty-five years its clergy have often been imprisoned and subjected to other forms of persecution. The Patriarch of the Unified Buddhist Church, 83-year-old Most Venerable Thich Huyen Quang, has been detained for 21 years in a ruined temple in an isolated area of central Viet Nam. Most Venerable Thich Quang Do, the Executive President of the Unified Buddhist Church, has also been in various forms of detention for many years, and was recently rearrested and placed under house arrest after he had proposed to bring Most Venerable Thich Huyen Quang to Saigon for medical treatment.

(C) The Hoa Hao Buddhist Church was also declared to be illegal until 1999, when the Government established an organization which purports to govern the Hoa Hao. According to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, `[t]his organization is made up almost entirely of Communist Party members and apparently is not recognized as legitimate by the vast majority of Hoa Haos . . . [n]evertheless, [this government-sponsored organization] has sought to control all Hoa Hao religious activity, particularly at the Hoa Hao village, which is the center of Hoa Hao religious life'. Hoa Hao believers who do not recognize the legitimacy of the government organization are denied the right to visit the Hoa Hao village, to conduct traditional religious celebrations, or to display Hoa Hao symbols. Many have been arrested and subjected to administrative detention, and several Hoa Hao have been sentenced to prison terms for protesting these denials of religious freedom.

(D) Independent Protestants, most of whom are members of ethnic minority groups, are subjected to particularly harsh treatment by the Government of Viet Nam. According to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, such treatment includes `police raids on homes and house churches, detention, imprisonment, confiscation of religious and personal property, physical and psychological abuse, and fines for engaging in unapproved religious activities (such as collective worship, public religious expression and distribution of religious literature, and performing baptisms, marriages, or funeral services) . . . [i]n addition, it is reported that ethnic Hmong Protestants have been forced by local officials to agree to abandon their faith'.

(E) Other religious organizations, such as the Catholic Church, are formally recognized by the Government but are subjected to pervasive regulation which violates the right to freedom of religion. For instance, the Catholic Church is forbidden to appoint its own bishops without Government consent, which is frequently denied, to accept seminarians without specific official permission, and to profess Catholic doctrines which are inconsistent with Government policy. A Catholic priest, Father Nguyen Van Ly, was arrested in March 2001 and remains in detention after submitting written testimony to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom.

(F) The Government has also confiscated numerous churches, temples, and other properties belonging to religious organizations. The vast majority of these properties--even those belonging to religious organizations formally recognized by the Government--have never been returned.

(5) Since 1975 the Government of Viet Nam has persecuted veterans of the Army of the Republic of Viet Nam and other Vietnamese who had opposed the Viet Cong insurgency and the North Vietnamese invasion of South Viet Nam. Such persecution typically included substantial terms in `re-education camps', where detainees were often subjected to torture and other forms of physical abuse, and in which many died. Re-education camp survivors and their families were often forced into internal exile in `New Economic Zones'. Many of these former allies of the United States, as well as members of their families, continue until the present day to suffer various forms of harassment and discrimination, including denial of basic social benefits and exclusion from higher education and employment.

(6)(A) The Government of Viet Nam has been particularly harsh in its treatment of members of the Montagnard ethnic minority groups of the Central Highlands of Viet Nam, who were the first line in the defense of South Viet Nam against invasion from the North and who fought courageously beside members of the Special Forces of the United States Army, suffering disproportionately heavy casualties, and saving the lives of many of their American and Vietnamese comrades-in-arms.

(B) Since 1975 the Montagnard peoples have been singled out for severe repression, in part because of their past association with the United States and in part because their strong commitment to their traditional way of life and to their Christian religion is regarded as inconsistent with the absolute loyalty and control demanded by the Communist system.

(C) In February 2001 several thousand Montagnards participated in a series of peaceful demonstrations throughout the Central Highlands, demanding religious freedom and restoration of their confiscated lands, and the Government responded by closing off the Central Highlands and sending in military forces, tanks, and helicopter gunships.

(D) Credible reports by refugees who have escaped to Cambodia indicate that the Government has executed some participants in the demonstrations and has subjected others to imprisonment, torture, and other forms of physical abuse.

(E) The Government of Viet Nam has also taken steps to prevent further Montagnards from escaping, and there are credible reports that Vietnamese security forces in Cambodia are offering bounties for the surrender of Montagnard asylum seekers.

(7) The Government of Viet Nam has also persecuted members of other ethnic minority groups, including the Khmer Krom from the Mekong Delta, many of whom fought alongside United States military personnel during the Viet Nam war and whose Hinayana Buddhist religion is not among those recognized by the Government.

(8) The Government of Viet Nam also engages in or condones serious violations of the rights of workers. In August 1997, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) reported that child labor exploitation is on the rise in Viet Nam with tens of thousands of children under 15 years of age being subjected to such exploitation. The government's official labor export program also has subjected workers, many of whom are women, to involuntary servitude, debt bondage, and other forms of abuse, and the reaction of government officials to worker complaints of such abuse has been to threaten the workers with punishment if they do not desist in their complaints.


(9)(A) United States refugee resettlement programs for Vietnamese nationals, including the Orderly Departure Program (ODP), the Resettlement Opportunities for Returning Vietnamese (ROVR) program, and resettlement of boat people from refugee camps throughout Southeast Asia, were authorized by law in order to rescue Vietnamese nationals who have suffered persecution on account of their wartime associations with the United States, as well as those who currently have a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group.

(B) In general, these programs have served their purpose well. However, many refugees who were eligible for these programs were unfairly denied or excluded, in some cases by vindictive or corrupt Communist officials who controlled access to the programs, and in others by United States personnel who imposed unduly restrictive interpretations of program criteria. These unfairly excluded refugees include some of those with the most compelling cases, including many Montagnard combat veterans and their families.

(10) The Government of Viet Nam systematically jams broadcasts by Radio Free Asia, an independent broadcast service funded by the United States in order to provide news and entertainment to the people of countries in Asia whose governments deny the right to freedom of expression and of the press.

(11) In 1995 the Governments of the United States and Viet Nam announced the `normalization' of diplomatic relations. In 1998 then-President Clinton waived the application of section 402 of the Trade Act of 1974 (commonly known as the `Jackson-Vanik Amendment'), which restricts economic assistance to countries with non-market economies whose governments also restrict freedom of emigration. In 1999 the Governments of the United States and Viet Nam announced `agreement in principle' on a bilateral trade agreement. This agreement was signed in 2000 and has been presented to Congress for approval or disapproval.

(12) The Congress and the American people are united in their determination that the extension or expansion of trade relations with a country whose government engages in serious and systematic violations of fundamental human rights must not be construed as a statement of approval or complacency about such practices. The promotion of freedom and democracy around the world--and particularly for people who have suffered in large part because of their past associations with the United States and because they share our values--is and must continue to be a central objective of United States foreign policy.

SEC. 102. PURPOSE.

The purpose of this Act is to promote the development of freedom and democracy in Viet Nam.

TITLE II--PROMOTION OF FREEDOM AND DEMOCRACY IN VIET NAM

Subtitle A--Prohibition on Nonhumanitarian Assistance to the Government of Viet Nam

SEC. 201. BILATERAL NONHUMANITARIAN ASSISTANCE.

(a) ASSISTANCE-

(1) IN GENERAL- Except as provided in subsection (b), United States nonhumanitarian assistance may not be provided to the Government of Viet Nam--

(A) for fiscal year 2002 unless not later than 30 days after the date of the enactment of this Act the President determines and certifies to Congress that the requirements of subparagraphs (A) through (D) of paragraph (2) have been met during the 12-month period ending on the date of the certification; and

(B) for each subsequent fiscal year unless the President determines and certifies to Congress in the most recent annual report submitted pursuant to section 241 that the requirements of subparagraphs (A) through (D) of paragraph (2) have been met during the 12-month period covered by the report.

(2) REQUIREMENTS- The requirements of this paragraph are that--

(A) the Government of Viet Nam has made substantial progress toward releasing all political and religious prisoners from imprisonment, house arrest, and other forms of detention;

(B) the Government of Viet Nam has made substantial progress toward respecting the right to freedom of religion, including the right to participate in religious activities and institutions without interference by or involvement of the Government;

(C) the Government of Viet Nam has made substantial progress toward respecting the human rights of members of ethnic minority groups in the Central Highlands or elsewhere in Viet Nam; and

(D)(i) neither any official of the Government of Viet Nam nor any agency or entity wholly or partly owned by the Government of Viet Nam was complicit in a severe form of trafficking in persons; or

(ii) the Government of Viet Nam took all appropriate steps to end any such complicity and hold such official, agency, or entity fully accountable for its conduct.

(b) EXCEPTION-

(1) IN GENERAL- Subsection (a) shall not apply for any fiscal year with respect to the provision of United States nonhumanitarian assistance for any program or activity for which such assistance was provided to the Government of Viet Nam for fiscal year 2001 in an amount not to exceed the amount so provided for fiscal year 2001.

(2) CONTINUATION OF ASSISTANCE IN THE NATIONAL INTEREST- Notwithstanding the failure of the Government of Viet Nam to meet the requirements of subsection (a)(2), the President may waive the application of subsection (a) for any fiscal year if the President determines that the provision to the Government of Viet Nam of increased United States nonhumanitarian assistance would promote the purposes of this Act or is otherwise in the national interest of the United States.

(3) EXERCISE OF WAIVER AUTHORITY-

(A) IN GENERAL- The President may exercise the authority under paragraph (2) with respect to--

(i) all United States nonhumanitarian assistance to Viet Nam; or

(ii) one or more programs, projects, or activities of such assistance.

(c) DEFINITIONS- In this section:

(1) SEVERE FORM OF TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS- The term `severe form of trafficking in persons' means any activity described in section 103(8) of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (Public Law 106-386 (114 Stat. 1470); 22 U.S.C. 7102(8)).

(2) UNITED STATES NONHUMANITARIAN ASSISTANCE- The term `United States nonhumanitarian assistance' means--

(A) any assistance under the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (including programs under title IV of chapter 2 of part I of that Act, relating to the Overseas Private Investment Corporation), other than--

(i) disaster relief assistance, including any assistance under chapter 9 of part I of that Act;

(ii) assistance which involves the provision of food (including monetization of food) or medicine; and

(iii) assistance for refugees; and

(B) sales, or financing on any terms, under the Arms Export Control Act.

SEC. 202. MULTILATERAL NONHUMANITARIAN ASSISTANCE.

The President shall ensure that section 701 of the International Financial Institutions Act (22 U.S.C. 262d), relating to human rights, is carried out with respect to Viet Nam.

Subtitle B--Assistance to Support Democracy in Viet Nam

SEC. 211. ASSISTANCE.

(a) IN GENERAL- The President is authorized to provide assistance, through appropriate nongovernmental organizations, for the support of individuals and organizations to promote human rights and nonviolent democratic change in Viet Nam.

(b) AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS- There are authorized to be appropriated to the President to carry out subsection (a) $2,000,000 for each of the fiscal years 2002 and 2003.

Subtitle C--United States Public Diplomacy

SEC. 221. RADIO FREE ASIA TRANSMISSIONS TO VIET NAM.

(a) POLICY OF THE UNITED STATES- It is the policy of the United States to take such measures as are necessary to overcome the jamming of Radio Free Asia by the Government of Viet Nam.

(b) AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS- In addition to such amounts as are otherwise authorized to be appropriated for the Broadcasting Board of Governors, there are authorized to be appropriated to carry out the policy under subsection (a) $9,100,000 for the fiscal year 2002 and $1,100,000 for the fiscal year 2003.

SEC. 222. UNITED STATES EDUCATIONAL AND CULTURAL EXCHANGE PROGRAMS WITH VIET NAM.

It is the policy of the United States that programs of educational and cultural exchange with Viet Nam should actively promote progress toward freedom and democracy in Viet Nam by providing opportunities to Vietnamese nationals from a wide range of occupations and perspectives to see freedom and democracy in action and, also, by ensuring that Vietnamese nationals who have already demonstrated a commitment to these values are included in such programs.

Subtitle D--United States Refugee Policy

SEC. 232. REFUGEE RESETTLEMENT FOR NATIONALS OF VIET NAM.

(a) POLICY OF THE UNITED STATES- It is the policy of the United States to offer refugee resettlement to nationals of Viet Nam (including members of the Montagnard ethnic minority groups) who were eligible for the Orderly Departure Program or any other United States refugee program and who were deemed ineligible due to administrative error or who for reasons beyond the control of such individuals (including the inability to pay bribes demanded by officials of the Government of Viet Nam) were unable to apply for such programs in compliance with deadlines imposed by the Department of State.

(b) AUTHORIZED ACTIVITY- Of the amounts authorized to be appropriated to the Department of State for Migration and Refugee Assistance for each of the fiscal years 2001, 2002, and 2003, such sums as may be necessary are authorized to be made available for the protection (including resettlement in appropriate cases) of Vietnamese refugees and asylum seekers, including Montagnards in Cambodia.

Subtitle E--Annual Report on Progress Toward Freedom and Democracy in Viet Nam

SEC. 241. ANNUAL REPORT.

Not later than May 31 of each year, the Secretary of State shall submit to Congress a report for the 12-month period ending on the date of submission of the report, on the following:

(1)(A) The determination and certification of the President that the requirements of subparagraphs (A) through (D) of section 201(a)(2) have been met, if applicable.

(B) The determination of the President under section 201(b)(2), if applicable.

(2) Efforts by the United States Government to secure transmission sites for Radio Free Asia in countries in close geographical proximity to Viet Nam in accordance with section 221(a).

(3) Efforts to ensure that programs with Viet Nam promote the policy set forth in section 222 and with section 102 of the Human Rights, Refugee, and Other Foreign Policy Provisions Act of 1996 regarding participation in programs of educational and cultural exchange.

(4) Steps taken to carry out the policy under section 232(a).
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