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European Parliament calls for concrete mechanisms on human rights and democracy in new EU-Vietnam Agreement

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STRASBOURG, 22 October 2008 (VIETNAM COMMITTEE ON HUMAN RIGHTS) – In its plenary session in Strasbourg today, the European Parliament passed a “Resolution on the new EU-Vietnam Partnership and Cooperation Agreement and Human Rights”. Adopted by an overwhelming majority of 479 in favour with 21 against and 4 abstentions, the Resolution drew a consensus of MEPs from all different political groups.

The EP Resolution calls for effective mechanisms to enforce human rights and democracy clauses in the new EU-Vietnam Partnership and Cooperation Agreement, which is currently under negotiation and will replace the 1995 EU-Vietnam Cooperation Agreement. It condemns grave assaults against freedom of religion, expression and peaceful assembly in Vietnam, including repression against the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam, detention of journalists and cyber-dissidents, the crackdown on peaceful protests of Catholics, and discrimination against ethnic Christian Montagnards and Khmer Krom Buddhists. The European Parliament, which has a consultative role in the conclusion of the new agreement, calls on the EU to ensure that Vietnam ceases these “systematic violations of democracy and human rights” before the new Partnership and Cooperation Agreement is signed.

The Resolution follows a Hearing on Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos at the EP Subcommittee on Human Rights in August 2008, spearheaded by Italian MEP Marco Cappato, EP Rapporteur for Human Rights. Mr. Vo Van Ai, President of the Vietnam Committee on Human Rights and Quê Me: Action for Democracy in Vietnam, who testified at the EP Hearing, warmly welcomed today’s Resolution: “This Resolution is important because it not only condemns the grave and systematic human rights abuses in Vietnam, but it proposes concrete mechanisms to prevent them. The EU is Vietnam’s largest trading partner. If mechanisms to implement human rights and democracy clauses are included, the new Partnership and Cooperation Agreement could be a tool for political leverage, especially in this period of economic crisis in Vietnam. The Resolution is also a forceful reminder to the Vietnamese government that it cannot continue to suppress its citizens rights with impunity if it hopes to play a greater role on the global stage”.

See full text of the Resolution HERE

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