Vietnam: No Free Trade With UNFree Regimes | Letter

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90 NGOs including LRWC call on the EU to reject the proposed free trade agreement until Viet Nam releases all political prisoner, including Nguyen Van Dai, and ensures rights to expression and association.

June 6, 2018

  • The Council of the European Union
  • The Members of the European Parliament

We, the undersigned organizations, urge European Union member countries to reject the pending free trade agreement with the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.

After the European Parliament’s emergency resolution on Vietnam last December, it would be a disgrace if European countries were to ratify free trade with a country that is one of the world’s worst enemies of freedom of expression, freedom of the press, and freedom of association. Over the last year, the Vietnamese authorities have arbitrarily detained scores of peaceful activists and bloggers. Just in April 2018, the Vietnamese authorities conducted five political trials and sentenced ten courageous human rights defenders and bloggers to harsh prison sentences of up to 15 years in prison for peacefully exercising rights to freedom of expression and association. In prison, torture and mistreatment are routinely used to extract confessions and force detainees to plead guilty. It is not unusual for prison officials to deny detained activists appropriate medical treatment.

The European External Action Service condemned the 5 April 2018 conviction and sentencing of Nguyen Van Dai, Le Thu Ha, Pham Van Troi, Nguyen Trung Ton, Nguyen Bac Truyen and Truong Minh Duc, stating these individuals “have peacefully advocated the promotion and protection of human rights as guaranteed by the Vietnamese Constitution, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Their sentences are in direct breach of these international obligations, which Vietnam has itself signed up to, and which the European Union expects full respect for.”

In June 2017 the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, observed that the case of Nguyen Van Dai was “one of several cases that have been brought before the Working Group in recent years concerning the arbitrary deprivation of liberty of persons in Viet Nam,” and urged Viet Nam to “work with international human rights mechanisms to bring its laws and practices into conformity with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Covenant.”

In September 2017, the Chair of the Committee on International Trade of the EU Parliament cautioned “if there are not sufficient solutions then the agreement will be in troubled water.”

Instead of responding to these calls to honor its human rights commitments, the Socialist Republic of Vietnam has intensified the crackdown and continues to punish peaceful advocacy, freedom to inform, and freedom of expression with arbitrary detention, illegitimate charges, unfair trials and long-term imprisonment.

We urge you to reject the proposed free trade agreement with Vietnam. The EU should expand its economic relations with Vietnam only when the Hanoi government:

  • Releases all political prisoners, including the six prominent activists and bloggers listed in the EEAS
    statement of April 6
  • Demonstrates its full respect for freedom of information and freedom of association

Without these enabling freedoms, the EU would risk trade with a state that represses citizens who advocate for
environmental protection and respect for human rights including worker rights.

Let’s support EU values through trade. Thank you for your support.