Plenary speech on freedom of expression in Vietnam

Marietje
The Parliament debated the restrictions on freedom of expression and digital freedoms in Vietnam. Marietje has been vocal in addressing the policies of the Vietnamese government and initiated a Resolution that was adopted on Thursday afternoon. Read the Resolution in Freedom of Expression in Vietnam here. The Resolution calls on the Vietnamese authorities to respect freedom of expression, to release all journalists and bloggers detained after critizing the government and to comply with its international obligations. Marietje Schaake, author − Madam President, the struggle for human rights has moved online. The availability of the internet and new technologies has helped people to access information, to freely express themselves, to assemble and to document human rights abuses, which can then be shared with the rest of the world. Governments that seek to retain control are afraid of empowered populations highlighting corruption, injustice and speaking out for justice, freedom and opportunities. The Vietnamese Government is no exception. It has imprisoned bloggers and democracy activists, and it has given them outrageously long prison sentences. On top of the consequences for individual dissidents and human rights defenders, a new decree on internet management would legalise content filtering, censorship and sanctions by the government against vaguely described ‘prohibited acts’. This decree would oblige internet companies and providers, including foreign ones, to cooperate with the government in the surveillance and tracking of cyber-dissidents. As the EU is also in the process of working on a free trade agreement with Vietnam, it is essential that European companies seeking to do business and to create jobs in Vietnam will not be met with surveillance and censorship, and are not forced to perform these acts either. These practices do not only have an impact on human rights, but also on opportunities to do business. They must end, and the EU strongly conveys this message today to the Vietnamese authorities.