April 17, 2013 – Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Dan Baer, along with an interagency delegation that included a White House representative, participated April 12 in the 17th bilateral human rights dialogue with Vietnam. The dialogue covered a number of areas, including freedom of expression, religious freedom, prisoners of concern, rule of law, labor rights, and freedom of information , including for members of the media and online. During his meetings with government officials, Deputy Assistant Secretary (DAS) Baer stressed that progress on human rights would help Vietnam harness the potential of the internet, help fight the corrosive effects of corruption, and make Vietnam more appealing as a destination for global trade and investment. The United States, he said, wants a strong partnership with a strong Vietnam, and that is why we care about the many issues that Vietnamese people themselves are raising and debating. DAS Baer pressed the government on the need to see demonstrable and concrete progress on human rights issues.
Deputy Assistant Secretary Baer met with a wide range of citizens in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, including human rights lawyers, bloggers, rule of law advocates, religious leaders, the families of prisoners of conscience, advocates for persons with disabilities, and advocates for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities. While Mr. Baer was able to meet well-known activist Father Nguyen Van Ly in prison, we were troubled that authorities prevented a private meeting with activists Nguyen Van Dai and Dr. Pham Hong Son as planned.
Both sides agreed to continue an intensive conversation on human rights between now and the next human rights dialogue.