Senator Ngo remains concerned about human rights in Vietnam after Prime Minister Trudeau’s APEC trip

November 10th, 2017

Senator Thanh Hai Ngo today issued the following statement regarding Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s trip to Vietnam:

“Yesterday, Prime Minister Trudeau concluded his visit to Vietnam, where he attended the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders’ Meeting.

“While in Hanoi, the Prime Minister met with Vietnamese leaders, including the Prime Minister of Vietnam, Nguyễn Xuân Phúc, to discuss trade and investment, development, human rights and people-to-people ties, among other bilateral matters.

Human Rights

“I am pleased that the Prime Minister highlighted the importance of respecting human rights in Vietnam during his bilateral meeting. However, it remains unclear whether he raised the human rights issues that my office identified for him, such as the release of political prisoners, judicial reform, the harassment of citizens by plainclothes police officers, the repression of religious activity and the oppression of environmental activists following the Formosa fish disaster.

The Joint Statement between Vietnam and Canada

“During the Prime Minister’s trip, Canada and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam issued a joint statement on the establishment of a comprehensive partnership. The human rights component of this non-binding agreement is both vague and contradictory as it only compels the two countries to promote human rights “in conformity with their own Constitutions and respective international agreements.” Unfortunately, this simple agreement betrays the UN Charter and Universal Declaration of Human Rights as it gives Vietnam significant leeway to keep taking oppressive measures against any form of dissent or opposition toward the Communist Party of Vietnam.

The Vietnamese-Canadian Community

“The Prime Minister also reported having “discussed the important contribution of the large Vietnamese diaspora in Canada to strengthening people-to-people links.” During that discussion with the Vietnamese communist leadership, I hope Prime Minister Trudeau stressed that the vibrant Vietnamese-Canadian community has contributed to Canada’s democracy, diversity and prosperity.

“In our diplomatic relations with the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, we must remember the modern beginnings of Canada’s Vietnamese community, the vast majority of whom arrived in Canada as refugees escaping communist oppression after the fall of Saigon in 1975. I hope Prime Minister Trudeau will soon take the time to meet the Vietnamese-Canadians who came to this country as boat people and learn more about their long journey to freedom.”



“I thank the Vietnamese Canadian community and the many rights activists for their consistent efforts to promote human rights, freedom and democracy in Vietnam. Their voices have resonated during the 2017 APEC summit to send a powerful message for all those who cannot be heard in Vietnam.”

The Hon. Senator Thanh Hai Ngo


“For Canada to uphold its foreign policy priorities, Prime Minister Trudeau must demand greater respect for international human rights standards on the same level as the progressive trade agenda he wishes to promote with Vietnam and other APEC economies.”
The Hon. Senator Thanh Hai Ngo

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