Yesterday (8 December), the European Union and Vietnam held the sixth round of their annual enhanced Human Rights Dialogue, in the context of the EU-Vietnam Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA). Both sides consider human rights to be an essential part of their bilateral relations. The Dialogue serves as a constructive platform for the exchange of knowledge, best practice and experience on the human rights situation in Vietnam.
The Human Rights Dialogue also serves as a vehicle for the EU’s support for the Southeast Asian country’s reform efforts. Yesterday’s talks focused on legal and judicial reforms in Vietnam, the freedoms of expression, of religion, belief, peaceful assembly and association, labor rights, the promotion of the rule of law and due process, combatting torture and ill-treatment, arbitrary detention, capital punishment, support to Vietnamese civil society organizations and to human rights defenders, and engagement within the United Nations framework.
The European Union also reiterated its continuous support to the implementation of the UN Convention against Torture as well as to the sharing of the best practices in legal review processes. The EU also shared its experience on the fight against trafficking in human beings. The upcoming visit of the European Parliament Sub-Committee of Human Rights in 2017 serves as an opportunity to further advance inter-parliamentary cooperation on human rights.
The EU also used yesterday’s meeting to raise its concerns regarding the ongoing harassment and detention of an increasing number of human rights defenders and activists. The EU highlighted the importance of making sure that all detainees can receive visits, including from lawyers, medical personnel and family members, in accordance with the Vietnamese Constitution and international human rights law. EU leaders urged their Vietnamese counterparts to release all persons detained for peacefully exercising their freedom of expression.