European Parliament members demand explanations on human rights clauses in the EU-Vietnam free trade agreement

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Following in the footsteps of FIDH, Members of the European Parliament have demanded explanations from the European Commission on the use and implementation of human rights clauses in the EU’s free trade agreements. FIDH had repeatedly raised the need to use these clauses in order to protect from arbitrary arrests Vietnamese environmental defenders - including those monitoring the EU’s free trade agreement with Vietnam.

14 June 2023. 26 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) from different political groups - EPP, Renew, S&D, The Left, and Greens/EFA - have echoed the content of a letter that FIDH and its member, the Vietnam Committee on Human Rights (VCHR), sent to the European Commission on 6 June.

The letter asked the Commission to protect environmental rights defenders through a better use of the essential elements and human rights clauses underpinning the EU’s free trade agreements. That is much needed in a context of shrinking civic space in Vietnam which saw a wave of arbitrary arrests targeting campaigners such as Hoang Thi Minh Hong.

In a parliamentary question, MEPs asked for explanations on this matter. They stressed that in their view “the silencing of civil society representatives, including those involved in monitoring the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA), is a clear breach of Vietnam’s commitments under the EVFTA and the EU-Vietnam Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA)”.

The parliamentary question also directly followed a hearing on this issue which was held in the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights in May. FIDH, the European Ombudsman and academics asked for better use of the clauses as well as the establishment of a dedicated complaints mechanism to report on the parties’ respect of human rights.

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