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In Communist Vietnam; Glimmer of Hope on Human Rights

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By John E. Carey
November 1, 2006

The Communist Government of Vietnam indicted Mrs. "Cuc" Foshee this week and charged her with crimes against the government.

Analysts say that the Government in Vietnam is moving toward resolving Mrs. Foshee's year long incarceration prior to President Bush's trip to Hanoi for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) conference Nov. 17-19.

Experts believe Mrs. Foshee will now be rapidly processed and tried. The hope is that she will be extradited to the United States within the next two weeks.

This action allows the Government of Vietnam to save face, signaling a harsh response to alleged crimes against the government. By holding a trial the Vietnamese do not have to look as if they acceded to demands from the U.S.

Also yesterday the Government of Vietnam announced that it is laying aside its policy of detaining people without charging them with violations of the law.

"We received word that the government of Vietnam has made a political decision to repeal or abolish this administrative decree," Michael Orona, the State Department's deputy director of the bureau of democracy, human rights and labor, told reporters.

The so-called "administrative detention decree 31/CP," was used by the government in Vietnam to hold such "notorious criminals" as Cong Do and Mrs. Foshee.

The Government of Vietnam is "considering and examining possibilities for abolishing this decree and proposing some modifications so that it is adapted to the situation in Vietnam as well as international norms," foreign ministry spokesman Le Dung said.

Administrative detention decree 31/CP went into effect in Vietnam in 1997.

From now on in Vietnam, "whoever is detained will have to know what they are being detained for and be given an opportunity to go to court and to meet with a lawyer -- rights which were not granted before," said Orona.

This is a big step forward in the Human Right area of policy for Vietnam.

With the setting aside of detention decree 31/CP and the release of Mrs. Foshee now potentially only days away, the U.S. Congress may now grant Vietnam Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR).

In a long discussion with us last evening, Mrs. Foshee's daughter Liz McCausland said she is now exceedingly hopeful that her Mother's release is near. But she added, "Our position is that the President of the United States should not go to Vietnam until my Mother "Cuc" is safely home."
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John E. Carey is the former president of International Defense Consultants, Inc.
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