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Arbitrary Interference With Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence
The Constitution provides for the right to privacy of home and correspondence; however, the Government restricted this right significantly. Household registration and block warden systems existed for the surveillance of all citizens but were used with less vigor and thoroughness than in the past and usually did not intrude on most citizens. The authorities largely focused on persons whom they regarded as having views critical of the Government or whom they suspected of involvement in unauthorized political or religious activities. Citizens formally are required to register with police when they leave home, remain in another location overnight, or when they change their residence, although this usually was honored in the breach; however, the Government appeared to have enforced these requirements in some districts of the Central Highlands and northwestern provinces. On August 18, police used that requirement to enter an illegal Protestant house church in Ho Chi Minh City, leading to an altercation that resulted in the brief detention of two church leaders. Most citizens who wished to move around the country to seek work or to visit family and friends were able to do so without being monitored, and most families who sought employment moved to other locations without prior government permission (see Section 2.d.). There continued to be reports that some "spontaneous migrant" families were unable to obtain household registration or residence permits in their new locations, which created legal and administrative problems. In urban areas, most citizens were free to maintain contact and to work with foreigners. In theory, the Government required that citizens who work for foreign organizations be screened and hired through a government service bureau. Laws governing foreign business enterprises are more lenient. In practice, many foreign organizations, including diplomatic missions, and enterprises hired their own personnel and only "registered" them with the service bureau or employment bureau.
Forced entry into homes is not permitted without orders from the Procuracy; however, in practice, security forces seldom followed this requirement but rather asked for permission to enter, with an implied threat to cooperate. In some cases, individuals refused to cooperate with such "requests." In urban areas, police generally left when faced with non-compliance. In one case in early October, security officers entered without permission a house in Gia Lai Province where a foreign diplomat was conducting a consular interview. The security officers harassed the occupants of the residence and later blocked the consular officer from entering residences in Dak Lak Province.
The Government opened and censored targeted persons' mail, confiscated packages and letters, and monitored telephone conversations, electronic mail, and facsimile transmissions. The Government cut the telephone lines of some targeted individuals and also repeatedly interrupted their cellular phone service. This practice appeared to be sporadic and was not applied consistently. The Government monitored e-mail, searched for sensitive key words, and regulated Internet content (see Section 2.a.).
The Government did not exercise forced resettlement; however, there were credible reports that the Government forced ethnic minority Protestants in the northwestern and Central Highlands provinces to leave their homes without providing them with alternative places to live. The Government also resettled some citizens to make way for infrastructure projects. By law, citizens were to be compensated in such cases, but there were widespread complaints, including from the National Assembly, that compensation was not fair or was delayed. The Government has acknowledged problems in past resettlement programs.
The Government enforced universal male conscription. Medical waivers were available, and students generally received deferments, as did others in special cases. Individuals who received deferments rarely were drafted. It was unknown whether there were differences in conscription rates between ethnic groups.
Citizens' membership in mass organizations remained voluntary but often was important for career advancement. Membership in the CPV remained an aid to advancement in the Government and in state companies and was vital for promotion to senior levels of the Government. At the same time, diversification of the economy made membership in CPV-controlled mass organizations and the CPV less essential to financial and social advancement. Opposition political parties were not permitted.
The Government continued to implement a family planning policy that urges all families to have no more than two children; this policy emphasized exhortation rather than coercion. The Government can deny promotions and salary increases to government employees with more than two children. Fines were not permitted under revised family planning regulations adopted during the year; officials claimed that fines were never a formal part of the family planning process.
In 2001, relatives of some individuals holding political viewpoints at variance with the Government lost their jobs with state-owned enterprises; however, most, if not all, found equivalent or better positions with private sector employers. No similar cases were known to have taken place in 2002 or during the year.
The Government interfered with distribution of foreign periodicals and access to satellite television (see Section 2.a.).
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