Vietnam: MEPs want progress on human rights before cooperation accord is signed

Relaciones exteriores - 22-10-2008

In a resolution on EU-Vietnam relations, Parliament calls for Vietnam to be pressed to observe human rights and various key freedoms before a new Partnership and Cooperation Agreement with the EU is finalised.

According to the resolution, which was adopted by 479 votes to 21 with 4 abstentions, freedom of assembly and of the press as well as internet access are severely restricted in Vietnam, while religious groups and ethnic minorities - such as Catholics, Buddhists and the Montagnard and Khmer minorities - suffer discrimination and persecution.

Better implementation of human rights under existing accord needed

Looking, firstly, to the current EU-Vietnam cooperation agreement, Parliament stresses that "the human rights dialogue between the European Union and Vietnam must lead to tangible improvements in Vietnam" and "asks the Council and the Commission to reassess cooperation policy with Vietnam, bearing in mind Article 1 of the 1995 Cooperation Agreement, which states that cooperation is based on respect for democratic principles and fundamental rights". It calls on the Commission "to establish clear benchmarks for the evaluation of the current development projects in Vietnam in order to ensure their compliance with the human rights and democracy clause".

New agreement not to be finalised until rights violations stop

Secondly, MEPs urge the Commission and the Council, in the current negotiations for a new Partnership and Cooperation Agreement, "to raise with the Vietnamese side the need to stop the current systematic violation of democracy and human rights before the finalisation of the agreement".

In particular, Parliament, which has a consultative role in the conclusion of the new agreement, wants Vietnam to be asked:

- to cooperate actively with UN human rights mechanisms, by inviting the Special Rapporteur on Religious Intolerance to visit Vietnam;

- to release all people imprisoned or detained for the peaceful expression of political or religious beliefs;

- to allow independent religious organisations to freely conduct religious activities without government interference;

- to repeal provisions in Vietnamese law that criminalise dissent and certain religious activities on the basis of imprecisely defined ‘national security’ crimes;

- to end the Vietnamese Government’s censorship and control over the domestic media.

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