EUROPEAN EXTERNAL ACTION SERVICE: Letter to Dr. Nguyen Dan Que, Co-chair of Former Vietnamese Prisoners of Conscience

The enhanced human rights dialogue established in early 2012 and held annually is our key instrument to discuss human rights and to raise our concerns with the authorities. It serves to keep human rights issues high on the bilateral agenda and is a constant reminder for Vietnam to improve its human rights record also in view of the ratifícation process of the PCA and the conclusion of the FTA. The dialogue also provides the occasion to address specific cases of activists on the regularly updated EU list of Persons of Concern (POC).

FVPOC | Cập nhật 25/09/2014

eeas_logo_sl-1363352038

Ref. Ares(2014)3136897 – 24/09/2014

Brussels,

LATKvM/bp (eeas.i.a.3(2014)3388632)

Dear Sirs,

Thank you very much for your open letter of 24 August 2014 to President Barroso on the situation of Human Rights defenders on the eve of his visit to Vietnam on 25 and 26 August ТЪе President has asked me to reply to your letter on his behalf.

During his stay in Vietnam the President had constructive and comprehensive discussions with state leaders on the broad range of EU-Vietnam relations and these explicitly included exchanges on the situation of human rights in Vietnam.

As you point out in your letter with reference to the European Parliament’s resolution of last April the European Union (EU) is committed to promoting respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, in Vietnam as elsewhere as part of its external policy. The respect for democratic principles and human rights constitutes an essential element of the EU-Vietnam Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) signed in June 2012 and presently in the ratifícation process. We also aim for an institutional and legal link between the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) currently under negotiation with Vietnam and the PCA. This horizontal approach ensures that these fundamental rights and principles are essential elements of our bilateral relations also when it comes to trade between the parties.

The enhanced human rights dialogue established in early 2012 and held annually is our key instrument to discuss human rights and to raise our concerns with the authorities. It serves to keep human rights issues high on the bilateral agenda and is a constant reminder for Vietnam to improve its human rights record also in view of the ratifícation process of the PCA and the conclusion of the FTA. The dialogue also provides the occasion to address specific cases of activists on the regularly updated EU list of Persons of Concern (POC). Mrs Bui Thi Minh hang who is mentioned in your letter is on the EU’s PoC list. When she was sentenced on 26 August together with two other activists the EU Head of

Delegation in Hanoi in a message posted on the Delegation’s website on 28 August expressed deep concern and reiterated prior calls on Vietnam to release all peaceful advocates of human rights in the country and stressed the fundamental right for all persons to hold and freely express their opinions in a peaceful manner. Such messages are published frequently and the Delegation together with Member States also repeatedly requests attendance of trials and visits to prisoners on the list of Persons of Concern.

Furthermore, we do raise human rights at all levels in our contacts with the authorities, be it in Vietnam such as during President Barroso’s visit or through the EU Delegation or in Brussels. Ibe EU Delegation also frequently meets and actively supports Vietnam’s civil society and will continue its engagement. In close coordination with international partners (and in association of authorities) meetings with civil society are being held to follow implementation of the recommendations accepted by Vietnam in this year’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the UN’s Human Rights Council. Let me recall that the UPR was a successful exercise. Vietnam participated constructively and accepted a large number of the recommendations made.

Let me conclude my assuring that closer EU-Vietnam trade relations will not come at the expense of human rights. Ibe promotion of human rights will remain integral part of our engagement with Vietnam.

Ugo Astuto

Director, South and South East Asia.

3_0001

3_0002