To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they are making to the Government of Vietnam about recent arrests and sentences imposed on critics of official policy and practices, as detailed in the Amnesty International Urgent Action Notices of 8 and 9 October; and whether they have received responses to similar previous representations. [HL5959]
The Government are concerned about the severe prison sentences given to nine Vietnamese citizens between 6 and 9 October for conducting propaganda against the state. We believe that all nine were peacefully expressing their right to freedom of expression in line with Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Vietnam is a party.
As with previous cases of this nature, the Vietnamese Government maintain that these nine individuals have broken the law and must be punished accordingly. Our British embassy in Hanoi and our EU partners sent representatives to witness three of the trials. Following the trials we raised our concerns with the Vietnamese Government about the grounds for the convictions and the severity of the sentences.
We regularly highlight to the Vietnamese Government the importance of the free flow of ideas, analysis and debate to Vietnam's long-term sustainable development. We will continue to press the Vietnamese Government to adhere to their international human rights obligations.