May 19, 2024

BANGKOK (Reuters) – Vietnam’s ruling Communist Party has directed officials to control trade unions as the country prepares to expand workers’ rights, alongside closely monitoring foreign organisations and citizens travelling abroad, according to an advocacy group.

Bangkok-based Project88, which focuses on human rights in Vietnam, said in a report published on Friday it had obtained an internal directive issued by the Politburo of the party in July containing these orders.

Project 88 said it could not independently verify the authenticity of the document, but noted that parts of it were reported in state media.

The party has ordered measures that appear in contradiction with its commitments under international trade deals to increasing the protection of workers, according to Project88’s translation of excerpts of the internal document.

In response to questions from Reuters, Vietnam’s foreign ministry said the country is committed to executing its international commitments, including in the areas of trade and human rights.

“Taking account of the complicated developments of the world and the region, Vietnam has issued various documents and conducted different measures to strengthen its national security,” it said.

Under the directive, officials are required to ensure the continued control of party cells and government management “at all levels” in the application of a U.N. convention on workers’ rights that Vietnam is planning to ratify this year after a decade of talks with international partners.

The convention is meant to guarantee the free establishment of trade unions, but the internal directive requires officials to “prevent the establishment of labour organisations on the basis of ethnicity or religion”, the group’s translation of the document said.

The Vietnamese office of the International Labour Organization (ILO) did not reply to requests for comment.

In what appears as a crackdown on foreign aid, the directive urges officials to “closely manage international cooperation activities” and refuse funds for sensitive projects, according to Project88’s translation.

Officials have also been instructed to prevent threats to national security from reforms that could facilitate foreign investors’ acquisition of controlling stakes “in vital economic sectors.”

Officials in the tightly controlled one-party state are also reminded in the directive that independent political organisations are not to be allowed in the country.

“Security conditions” are to be enhanced in industrial parks, residential areas, economic zones and “areas with a large concentration of workers,” said a Project88 analysis that translated and quoted the internal document.

Vietnamese citizens travelling abroad for business or leisure must be closely monitored, according to the analysis.

The media should be increasingly used to tackle civil disobedience, fight “sabotage by hostile forces” and counter the promotion of “a hybrid foreign culture that does not conform to the customs and traditions of the nation,” the group’s translation of the directive said.

(Reporting by Reuters staff)

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