The British Ambassador to Vietnam, Mr. Gareth Ward, recently visited the Press Museum in Hanoi, on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day, while also highlighting the role of the free press.
The British diplomatic mission on May 3 posted a short video on social media in which Mr. Ward said in Vietnamese that he visited “a place that tells stories about the history of journalism in Vietnam.”
The diplomat said he was “particularly impressed with the loudspeaker on display at the museum” because during wartime it “could transmit news up to 10 kilometers away.”
Ambassador Ward said that freedom of the press is recognized in Article 25 of the Vietnamese Constitution and Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Vietnam is one of the member states.
“A free press plays an important role in the development of the community,” he added. Newspapers are the medium for sharing ideas and information. Newspapers help unleash creative energy, promote positive change, and the right to demand accountability.”
Mr. Ward continued that “the UK is committed to promoting global press freedom” and “in Vietnam, we have worked closely with universities, research institutes, and civil society organizations to organize journalism training courses.”
On the occasion of World Press Freedom Day on May 3, the German Embassy in Hanoi published a statement from the country’s Foreign Minister, Heiko Maas, in which he said “standing up and fighting for press freedom are a duty for each of us.”
Germany’s top diplomat was quoted adding that we “need independent and free information” because “without it, democracies cannot function,” and that “the press is not a crime while reporters should not be threatened.”
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) released a report last month, in which Vietnam continues to be among the 6 countries with the least freedom of the press in the world, with a statement that the country is run by the Communist Party which has increased control over social media and launched a wave of detention of independent journalists over the past year.
Of the 180 countries assessed on the RSF’s 2021 World Press Freedom Index released on April 20, Vietnam ranked 175th and in the group of countries, including China and North Korea, is considered to be “in very bad condition” in the press environment.
The RSF said in its press release that Vietnam “also increased its control over social media content while waging a wave of arrests of top independent journalists during preparation for the 13th National Congress of the ruling party.”
The Paris-based organization mentioned the name of Pham Doan Trang, a journalist who won the Press Freedom award in the Influence category of the RSF in 2019, among those arrested by the Vietnamese government last year.
Vietnam has not responded to this latest RSF report, but last year, the local media quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Ngo Toan Thang as saying “this is not the first time that Reporters Without Borders make reports based on false, unfounded, and malicious information.”
The spokesman added that “Reporters Without Borders itself allows the ranking of a country’s press freedom according to its own criteria without really understanding the circumstances and conditions of each country so its assessments and comments are unreliable and not convinced,” said the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs on its website.