Resolution on the situation of human rights in Vietnam

18/11/2019
Statement

The FIDH, gathered at its 40th Congress in Taipei, Taiwan,

Considering that the territorial conflict in the South China Sea (known by Vietnamese as the East Sea), which involves Brunei, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam, has become increasingly tense following aggressive initiatives by the People’s Republic of China, including incursions, militarisation and unilateral occupation of disputed islands and reefs, and attacks on Vietnamese fishermen ;

Whereas, given the position and strategic importance of this waterway, through which transits over one third of international maritime trade, this issue threatens peace in the region and beyond;

Whereas the incursion of the Chinese ship Haiyang Dizhi 8 and escort ships in July 2019 to Vanguard Bank in the Spratly Islands within Vietnam’s Exclusive Economic Zone sparked off deep indignation, yet the Vietnamese people were unable to express their protests; two small demonstrations held outside the Chinese Embassy in Hanoi on 6 August 2019 and the Chinese Consulate in Saigon on 10 August 2019 were rapidly disbanded by the authorities;

Whereas the Vietnamese population and civil society have been prevented from expressing their protests because of a fierce crackdown by the authorities; the number of prisoners of conscience in Vietnam rose by one third over the past year (now over 130 prisoners) and peaceful demonstrations have been systematically repressed; arrests and harsh prison sentences against those who dare speak out are taking place at this very moment ;

Whereas, in order to stifle the voices of civil society, the Communist Party of Vietnam is increasingly invoking Article 109 of the Criminal Code on “activities aimed at overthrowing the government”, which carries the death penalty as maximum sentence, as well as other “national security” offences to sanction the peaceful exercise of freedom of expression ;

Denounce the use of vague and broadly-defined laws that criminalize the Vietnamese people’s exercise of their fundamental rights and endow the authorities with exorbitant, arbitrary powers to repress human rights defenders and all those seeking to enjoy these rights;

Regret that at its third Universal Periodic Review Vietnam once again rejected recommendations to amend provisions on “national security” in the 2015 Criminal Code to bring them into line with international norms;

Denounce the Vietnamese government’s policy of censorship and clamp-down on information, and its use of diverse forms of repression (police brutality and harassments, unfair trials, restrictive legislation) to create a climate of fear amongst all those seeking to participate in public affairs;

Call upon Vietnam to cease this ongoing crackdown and immediately and unconditionally release all persons detained for the legitimate and peaceful exercise of their fundamental freedoms and rights;

Calls upon the European Union not to sign the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) until it ensures the agreement guarantees the Vietnamese people’s fundamental rights, notably by including independent monitoring and complaint mechanisms, and to insist that Vietnam upholds its binding human rights obligations.

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statement