The Socialist Republic of Vietnam is an authoritarian state ruled by a single party, the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV), led by General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, and President Truong Tan Sang. The most recent National Assembly elections, held in 2011, were neither free nor fair. Authorities maintained effective control over the security forces. Security forces committed human rights abuses.
The most significant human rights problems in the country continued to be severe government restrictions on citizens’ political rights, particularly their right to change their government; increased measures to limit citizens’ civil liberties; and corruption in the judicial system and police.
Specific human rights abuses included continued police mistreatment of suspects during arrest and detention, including the use of lethal force as well as austere prison conditions; arbitrary arrest and detention for political activities; and denial of the right to a fair and expeditious trial. Political influence, endemic corruption, and inefficiency continued to distort the judicial system significantly. The government limited freedoms of speech and press and suppressed dissent; increasingly restricted internet freedom; reportedly continued to be involved in attacks against websites containing criticism; maintained surveillance of dissidents; and continued to limit privacy rights and freedoms of assembly, association, and movement. Although authorities allowed more than 100 new places of worship to register, hundreds of others remained unable to register, and citizens who tried to exercise their right to freedom of religion continued to be subject to harassment, differing interpretations and applications of the law, and inconsistent legal protection, especially at provincial and village levels. Police corruption persisted. The government maintained its prohibition of independent human rights organizations. Violence and discrimination against women as well as trafficking in persons of men, women, and children continued, as did gender-based sex selection and sexual exploitation of children. Although societal discrimination based on ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, and HIV/AIDS status persisted, a lively public debate about lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights took place, and LGBT persons were generally tolerated. The government maintained limits on workers’ rights to form and join independent unions and did not enforce safe and healthy working conditions adequately. Child labor persisted.
The government inconsistently took steps to prosecute and punish officials who committed abuses, and police officers sometimes acted with impunity.