The Obama administration is pursuing a free trade agreement with Vietnam, but critics of the country’s authoritarian regime believe sanctions are in order.
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.), a vocal champion of human rights, on Friday introduced a bill that would impose targeted financial and visa sanctions on Vietnamese individuals involved in abuses.
“With human rights abuses on the rise, it is clear the regime is doubling down on repression. Unfortunately, the Obama Administration has been silent on these gross human rights abuses. This legislation tells the freedom-seeking people of Vietnam that Congress stands with them,” Royce said in a statement.
The bill instructs the president to compile a list of human rights abusers within 90 days and make the list public.
Financial sanctions include the blocking of the property of, and restricting or prohibiting financial transactions and the exportation and importation of property by, the individual.
Vietnam is a participant in talks over a Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement that the U.S. wants to sign this year with 11 other nations including Japan.
That agreement may be held up by congressional refusal to grant Obama fast-track trade negotiating authority. In addition to worries about the loss of domestic manufacturing jobs, concerns about Vietnamese rights abuses could play a role