Cyber threats and challenges for human rights during the COVID-19 pandemic were among the key topics discussed at the 17th annual human rights dialogue between Australia and Vietnam.
On Thursday the department of foreign affairs and trade (DFAT) issued a joint statement about the dialogue, which took place virtually in December.
According to both countries, there was ‘productive and frank’ exchange about the rollout of COVID vaccines, and legal reform policies to protect the rights of women and children, Indigenous Australians and Vietnamese ethnic minority peoples, the LGBTI community, and people living with a disability.
“Vietnam noted its efforts toward an inclusive COVID-19 recovery that would leave no one behind, including groups experiencing vulnerability,” the statement said, adding that
Australia shared information about how its public health responses upheld laws that protected its human rights obligations.
🇦🇺 has shared over 17 million #COVID19 vaccine doses with our neighbours to support our shared health security & economic recovery. This is part of a commitment to share 60 million doses with our region by the end of this year. Track the deliveries at ➡️ https://t.co/zyVxvs8zWd pic.twitter.com/ETh3Lz7zfj
— DFAT🇦🇺 (@dfat) January 7, 2022
The dialogue was co-chaired by DFAT’s first assistant secretary of multilateral policy Natasha Smith and Vietnam’s assistant foreign minister Do Hung Viet.
The dialogue went on to canvas the efforts and achievements made by both nations since the last dialogue in protecting and promoting human rights, including economic, social and cultural, and civil and political rights.
“Australia underlined the importance of freedom of religion, assembly and association, as well as freedom of expression in traditional media and on social media, noting how governments can help to strengthen human rights online,” the statement read.
“Both sides noted the significant role played by the media, NGOs and other relevant stakeholders to make a positive contribution to each society.”
Australian representatives reiterated the country’s opposition to the death penalty (which still exists in Vietnam) ‘in all circumstances for all people’ during the dialogue. And Vietnam shared an update on its latest legal reforms, including the adoption of human rights-related legislation, the implementation of ratified international human rights instruments, as well as ongoing plans to review the ratification of other human rights instruments.
The statement added that both countries would work together to ensure human rights obligations were met under domestic laws and international obligations, and that Australia and Vietnam were committed to investigating areas for multilateral and regional cooperation.
The 18th dialogue has been set to take place in Hanoi later this year.