Thursday, July 11, 2024


EU human rights talks with Vietnam draw censure

David Hutt

3 hours ago

Human rights groups are calling on Brussels to end its "box-ticking" talks with Vietnam and to take more drastic actions.

The European Union has come under criticism for continuing to engage in human rights dialogues with authoritarian governments in Southeast Asia. 

Several campaign groups are calling on Brussels to stop the "box-ticking" talks with Vietnam's Communist government, the latest round of which took place last week.

Officials from the European Commission and European Parliament told DW that, though they are concerned about the deterioration of human rights in Vietnam, they believe the formal dialogues remain an important avenue for improving the situation.

The European Union and Vietnam have engaged in human rights discussions since the 1990s and have held at least 20 formal human rights dialogue sessions since 2002. This was noted by Human Rights Watch, a prominent advocacy group, in a letter submitted to the European Union ahead of the latest human rights dialogue that began in Brussels on July 4.

During this period, "Vietnam has made almost no progress on the numerous issues raised by EU officials," the letter stated, and repression in Vietnam "has only intensified" since the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) came into force in 2020.

According to data collected by the 88Project, a human rights group, there are 192 activists currently in prison in Vietnam and another 400 at risk of imprisonment.

The US State Department's latest human rights report on Vietnam noted that, in addition to restrictions on speech and association, there are credible reports of "arbitrary or unlawful killings by the government," as well as "torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment and punishment by government agents."

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