In observance of Human Rights Day on December 10, Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) released a summary of the numerous human rights abuses in China, Cuba, Sudan, Vietnam and other countries. Rep. Smith highlighted that 2009 has not been a good year for many people around the world.
Vietnam, whose president met with Pope Benedict on Friday, was cited by Rep. Smith in his 2009 summary as a place where respect for human rights has gone “from bad to worse.”
“Hanoi has unleashed a torrent of repression upon courageous citizens fighting for basic rights. These victims have been imprisoned by the regime for practicing their faith and standing up for what they believe in,” he charged.
Smith has introduced to the U.S. House the Vietnam Human Rights Act for the purpose of holding the Vietnamese government accountable for its mistreatment and incarceration of democracy activists, people of faith and labor rights activists.
Rep. Smith, who is the ranking member on the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, also voiced concern about human rights in China.
“The United States has been sending a message that profits and money-making and climate change issues trump human rights,” he claimed.
China has an oppressive one-child policy and its women reportedly have the highest suicide rate in the world.
Smith also voiced concern about peace in Sudan, which has suffered massacres, sexual violence and the destruction of entire villages.
On the matter of U.S.-Cuba relations, he advocated that the release of political prisoners should be a priority ahead of permitting travel to Cuba or altering the trade embargo on the country.
Last week the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission (TLHRC) held a hearing on international child abduction. Parents, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and judicial and legal experts on relevant international law testified at the hearing.
Rep. Smith, an executive member of TLHRC, said that child abduction is a “growing problem” that needs “real systematic change.”