asked Her Majesty's Government:
Whether they will make representations to the Government of Vietnam concerning Nguyen Van Dai and Le Thi Cong Nhan of Advocates International, both sentenced to imprisonment to be followed by house arrest, and the case of Reverend Nguyen Van Ly, sentenced to eight years in prison; and whether they have received other requests on behalf of those defending civil and religious freedoms in Vietnam. [HL3915]
We are concerned at the recent arrest and sentencing of several peaceful human rights defenders in Vietnam, including Nguyen Van Dai, Le Thi Cong Nhan and Nguyen Van Ly, who have been charged with “conducting propaganda” against the state. We, along with our EU partners, have made numerous representations to the Vietnamese authorities on this issue.
Most recently, on 15 May the EU issued a statement expressing its concern about the current situation and calling on the Vietnamese Government to release all non-violent political activists who have exercised their rights to freedom of expression and association.
My right honourable friend the Minister for Trade, Investment and Foreign Affairs, Ian McCartney, raised our concerns about the arrest and detention of human rights activists with the Vietnamese Vice-Minister Le Cung Phung during the EU/Association of South East Asian Nations ministerial meeting in Nuremburg on 14 and 15 March. He also raised this issue with the Vietnamese ambassador on 10 May.
We will continue to raise the question of human rights defenders, along with other human rights issues, with the Vietnamese Government, including during the forthcoming EU human rights dialogue.
We have had other representations about these cases. Several members of the public have written to honourable members, calling on the Government to make representations to the Vietnamese authorities on behalf of those defending civil and religious freedoms.