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2003-02-19 03:09:00
Embassy Hanoi
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						UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HANOI 000388 



E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: STATE 13786

1. (U) Ambassador and other Embassy and Consulate General
officers demarched and spoke with GVN authorities at the
national, provincial, and local levels numerous times
throughout the year on various human rights issues including
religious freedom as well as the status of persons of
concern detained, imprisoned, harassed, or otherwise abused
by authorities. Results include GVN issuance of passports
to over two dozen Montagnard families, allowing them to take
advantage of their eligibility for various U.S. refugee
programs. Some had been waiting over three years for
passports. A Chinese national who had entered Vietnam
illegally was allowed to depart under a US refugee program
and join his asylee parents in the U.S. Other intervention
resulted in improved GVN treatment of some other persons of
concern, such as a prominent actor and a controversial Hoa
Hao monk.

Embassy and Consulate General officers visited political
activists and leaders of non-government recognized religious
groups throughout the year, particularly following instances
of government harassment or as a pre-emptive measure after
others were harassed or detained. These visits demonstrated
that the USG took their welfare seriously and in some cases
may have delayed or discouraged action against them.
Beneficiaries included activists Nguyen Dan Que and Nguyen
Thanh Giang, unregistered Buddhist church leader Thich Huyen
Quang, and two Mennonite Sunday school teachers. ConGenoffs
demonstrated interest in the latter by circling the police
station where they were detained in the Consul General's
vehicle -- no flags flying, but with unmistakable diplomatic
plates. Police released the teachers the next day.

The Embassy and Consulate General arranged the visits of
members of the U.S. Commission on International Religious
Freedom as well as the Ambassador-at-Large for Religious
Freedom, including formal meetings with a wide variety of
GVN officials as well as religious leaders. The Embassy
also facilitated the visit to the U.S. of GVN religious
affairs officials and religious leaders.

Embassy officers for the first time ever visited Vietnamese
prisons -- twice during the year -- to investigate prison
conditions and demonstrate US interest and concern.

Embassy initiated a mid-level human rights channel with the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs that provided an effective means
to raise concerns and obtain official information about
persons of concern, including activist Pham Hong Son.

Department of Labor (DOL), with Embassy assistance, launched
four projects with human rights dimensions. While freedom
of association remained a problem, the GVN agreed to a DOL
program improving industrial relations through dispute
prevention and settlement. It will train representatives of
seventy enterprises in collective bargaining, problem
solving, and dispute resolution as well as establish
industrial relations advisory centers and a national
training institute. A second program will improve
employment opportunities for people with disabilities
through a review of relevant legislation, remodeling ten
Employment Service Centers, training their staffs, and
raising public awareness. A third project, launched on
February 19, 2003), will address the prevention, withdrawal,
and rehabilitation of child labor through strengthening the
capacity of government agencies. A fourth, begun in early
2003, will establish policies to prevent discrimination in
the workplace against HIV/AIDS positive employees.

The USG-funded Support for Trade Acceleration (STAR)
Project, to facilitate the implementation of the U.S.-
Vietnam Bilateral Trade Agreement, includes components aimed
at promoting transparency and rule of law that benefit human
rights. STAR trains lawyers and judges; the project has
stimulated greater efforts to ensure that new and amended
laws conform to international treaties and has achieved
significant concrete results. Full implementation of the
BTA will have a substantial impact on Vietnam's system of
governance. Required legal reforms specifically mandate
greater transparency and due process in the legal system.
Although it will take some time for a reformed legal sector
to function as a protector of human rights, many of the
basic components will be put in place as a result of BTA

Post-obtained grant funding from EAP/RSP allowed the
International Organization for Migration (IOM) and The Asia
Foundation to carry out projects to combat trafficking in
persons. The IOM project opened a shelter in Ho Chi Minh
City for underage trafficking victims who have been
repatriated from brothels in Cambodia and began expansion of
a reception center for trafficking victims closer to the
Cambodian border. The Asia Foundation project, which
continued through year-end, worked with various government
and civil society organizations to highlight the dangers of
trafficking at the community level and provided economic
alternatives for high-risk groups.

The Mission's Public Affairs Sections sponsored
International Visitors on human rights-related programs
including "Grassroots Democracy in the U.S.," "Laws and
Policies on Persons with Disabilities," and "The Role of the
Media in Promoting Civil Society." PAS is sponsoring five
provincial workshops on grassroots democracy, which include
developing, publishing, and distributing pamphlets on human
rights, women's rights, children's rights, and legal rights.
PAS administered a grant-funded program that provided gender
education and women's leadership training in three
provinces. PAS translated and distributed print and
electronic journals and documents on human rights themes.