Message from Ambassador Bruno Angelet, Head of Delegation of the European Union to Vietnam and the Ambassadors of the EU Member States in Vietnam on the arrest of lawyer Nguyen Van Dai (17/12/2015)

The Head of the Delegation of the European Union and the Ambassadors of the EU Member States in Vietnam express their serious concerns over the arrest yesterday of Mr. Nguyen Van Dai, lawyer and human rights defender. On 15 December 2015, the Investigating Agency of the Ministry of Public Security decided to prosecute Mr. Nguyen Van Dai for "conducting propaganda against the Socialist Republic of Vietnam", under article 88 of the Penal Code. The Supreme People's Court ratified the decision. It has been reported that Mr. Nguyen Van Dai was assaulted last week after participating in a workshop on human rights in the Province of Nghe An.

The decision to arrest and prosecute Mr. Nguyen Van Dai is particularly disappointing as it happened on the day of the annual EU-Vietnam Human Rights Dialogue in Hanoi and shortly after the visit to Brussels of Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung where both sides concluded the negotiations for an EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement. In addition the European Parliament is voting today to give its consent to the ratification of the EU-Vietnam Partnership and Cooperation Agreement. Mr. Andrus Ansip, Vice-President of the European Commission raised yesterday the arrest of Mr. Nguyen Van Dai during the plenary session of the European Parliament.

The Head of the Delegation of the European Union and the Ambassadors of the EU Member States in Vietnam recall the fundamental right for all persons to hold opinions and freely and peacefully express them, in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Vietnam is a party.

They reiterate prior calls on Vietnam to release all peaceful advocates of human rights in the country.

The EU also expresses its readiness to continue working in partnership with Vietnam to secure positive changes on human rights and rule of law issues.