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The European Union and Vietnam held the 8th round of their annual Human Rights Dialogue today in Brussels.
The Dialogue allowed for an open discussion on a wide range of human rights issues related inter alia to freedom of expression (online and offline), cybersecurity, the death penalty, labour rights, the environment, and cooperation within the United Nations framework. The Dialogue was preceded by consultations with civil society in Europe and in Vietnam.
The EU, while fully acknowledging Vietnam's progress on economic, social and cultural rights, including poverty alleviation and access to health services and education, emphasised the need to make significant progress on political and civil rights.
The EU underlined the significant increase of arrests and convictions as well as limitations in the freedom of movement of human rights defenders since 2016. Along with mentioning few individual cases, the EU also stated its expectation that all detained individuals' rights be upheld in line with the Vietnamese Constitution and international human rights provisions, and reiterated that all persons detained for peacefully exercising their freedom of expression online or offline must be released.
The promotion of human rights in international fora and the need to effectively implement recommendations from international human rights bodies were also raised. The EU expressed its readiness to support Vietnamese efforts to implement recommendations received under the Universal Periodic Review, and to share best practices in legal review processes. Moreover the EU encouraged Vietnam to issue a standing invitation to UN Special Procedures.
The European Union reiterated the crucial role of civil society organisations in promoting and protecting human rights as well as in enhancing sustainable socio-economic development.
The Human Rights Dialogue was followed by a full-day visit of the European Parliament.
The EU delegation was headed by Mr David Daly, Head of Division South East Asia in the European External Action Services (EEAS) together with Ms Luisa Ragher, Head of Division for Human Rights in the EEAS. The Vietnamese delegation was led by Mr Do Hung Viet, Acting Director General of the International Organisations Department of the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and it included representatives from various services, agencies and ministries.
The 9th round of the enhanced EU-Vietnam Human Rights Dialogue is scheduled to take place in Hanoi.