That decision denounces wrong viewpoints and disinformation about human rights in Vietnam, including those of press freedom.

Press freedom from the angle of international law

Internationally, press freedom is regulated specifically in international law. Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on 19 December 1996, confirms that: “Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.”

The article further states that “the exercise of the rights provided for in paragraph 2 of this article carries with it special duties and responsibilities. It may therefore be subject to certain restrictions, but these shall only be such as are provided by law and are necessary: (a) For respect of the rights or reputations of others; (b) For the protection of national security or of public order, or of public health or morals.”


Meanwhile, Article 29 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights stresses that “In the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society.”

The laws of many countries also regulate press freedom specifically. Consequently, the exercise of this right must be within the legal framework. Article 5 of the Basic Law of the Federal Republic of Germany also regulates that: “Freedom of the press and freedom of reporting by means of broadcasts and films shall be guaranteed.” However, Article 18 of this law stresses that “Whoever abuses the freedom of expression, in particular the freedom of the press ... in order to combat the free democratic basic order shall forfeit these basic rights.”

Therefore, international law as well as that of other countries’ regulate that the freedom of the press is not an absolute right. When observing this privilege, man has to observe certain limits to protect common interests of the society, state, and other citizens.

Respecting and ensuring press freedom – a consistent viewpoint

President Ho Chi Minh and the CPV consistently uphold the viewpoint of respecting and protecting basic human rights, including press freedom. On the basis of translating international laws into local ones, the first constitution of the country, the Vietnamese Constitution of 1946, regulates that its citizens have the right to press freedom which is protected by law. Later on, other constitutions of the country reaffirm that of press freedom. Article 25 of the Constitution 2013 clearly states that: “The citizen shall enjoy the right to freedom of opinion and speech, freedom of the press, to access to information, to assemble, form associations and hold demonstrations. The practice of these rights shall be provided by the law.” And, Point 2 of Article of this Constitution confirms that “Human rights and citizen’s rights shall only be restricted in imperative circumstances  for  the  reasons  of  national  defense,  national  security,  social  order and security, social morality, and the health of the community.” This regulation is also transposed into many Vietnam’s legal documents such as the Penal Code 2015 and the Media Law 2016.

Plots to distort and sabotage

In recent years, hostile forces have took advantages of Vietnam’s shortcomings in implementing policies and laws to denounce Vietnam of “lacking freedom of the expression and press,” “censoring and tightening the freedom of press and the internet,” “arresting bloggers.” They intentionally gave a wrong and partial assessment on freedom of the press in Vietnam to wrongly accuse Vietnam of violating democracy and human rights to lower the country’s prestige in the international arena.

They also quoted regulations of international and Vietnamese laws on freedom of the press but intentionally ignored obligatory terms related to those regulations and then spread them on social networks to misinform that freedom of the press is an absolute right. By doing so, they also advocated dissidents and those who take use of freedom of the press to operate more resolutely.

Moreover, they tried to influence the U.S. Congress and western countries’ parliaments to pass bills, resolutions, and annual reports etc. with biased contents on democracy, human rights, and freedom of the press in Vietnam. Despite acknowledging that Vietnam made “progress in democracy and human rights,” they still wrongly accused the country of violating “freedom of the press,” suppressing and illegally arresting bloggers.” Some of them even influenced extreme politicians in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., to organize hearings or workshops to distort about freedom of the press and democracy in Vietnam in order to seek a U.N. resolution that go against Vietnam’s interests.

There have been many activities to unite the opposed, political opportunists, and corrupt reporters to write intensively to distort the facts about democracy and press freedom in Vietnam and then disseminate this misinformation on the Internet. Especially, they also established online clubs and forums under the guise of striving “freedom of expression and press” to gather forces and form organizations to fight against the Party and State of Vietnam.

Achievements in thwarting distortion

In reality, Vietnam has recorded remarkable achievements in ensuring freedom of the press for its citizens. According to the Ministry of Information and Communications, by June 2017, the country had 982 registered media agencies, including 193 newspapers, 639 magazines, and 150 online media. The statistics also reveal that over 17,000 journalists were granted press cards.

In Vietnam, the press has truly become a bridge to connect the “Party’s guideline” with the “people’s desires,” creating social consensus, promoting social development, becoming a tool for the people to monitor legal enforcement activities, and providing feedback for government policy. That is vivid evidence of freedom of the press in Vietnam.

Recently, Vietnam has brought to court some individuals who tried to abuse the freedom of expression and press to violate the interests of the State and people. This was in keeping with international laws and those of other countries in this field.

Translated by Nam Long