UN asks Vietnam to respond to “arbitrary arrests”

Duong Van Ngoan (center, handcuffed) is one of nine people tried at the trial on November 29 for “disturbing public order” by participating in protests against the 2018 special economic zone bill. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has asked Vietnam to account for the “arbitrary” arrests and detentions of democracy activists and human rights defenders.

The United Nations Special Rapporteur has asked the Vietnamese government to respond to alleged “arbitrary” arrests and detentions of a range of human rights activists and defenders.

In a letter sent to the Vietnamese government from last November, the group of Special Rapporteurs from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) called attention to “the detention and prosecution of arbitrary legal actions against social media activists and human rights defenders.”

Activists and human rights defenders mentioned in the report include Chung Van Chuong, Nguyen Van Nghiem, Le Van Dung, Dinh Thi Thu Thuy, Do Nam Trung, and Dinh Van Hai. Explaining the concerns raised by these activists, the rapporteurs allege that they were arrested, detained, and prosecuted in connection with critical statements about the human rights situation in Vietnam.

In a letter dated November 1, 2021, the Special Rapporteurs wrote that they received concerns about the series of arrests at the time and expressed their equal concern about the arrested and detained a number of independent candidates and activists who announced their intentions or ran for seats in the National Assembly at last year’s midterm elections, including Le Trong Hung, Le Chi Thanh, and Tran Quoc Khanh.

In a series of trials in the last month of last year, activist Do Nam Trung and freelance journalist Le Trong Hung both received years in prison on charges that the UN human rights organization considers “vague.”

Mr. Trung was sentenced to 10 years in prison while Mr. Hung was sentenced to 5 years in prison, for the same charge of “conducting propaganda against the state” under Article 88, later changed to Article117, of the Vietnam Penal Code.

The UN rapporteurs also raised their concerns about the “ambiguous provisions of the Criminal Code” and argued that this appeared “incompatible with (Vietnam) obligations under international human rights law.” economic.” They mentioned that “propaganda against the State” (117 of the Criminal Code) and “abusing democratic freedoms” (Article 331 of the Criminal Code) were used against individuals who “simply exercised their right to freedom of expression and communicate information.”

They are also deeply concerned about Vietnam’s alleged “deliberate and systematic attempt to intimidate and silence human rights defenders, civil society organizations, journalists and political activists” with “apparently baseless legal prosecution, arbitrary detention and, in some cases, enforced disappearance.”

The UN Special Rapporteur requested the Vietnamese government to provide information on the legal basis for the arrest, detention, and legal prosecution of the activists and human rights defenders mentioned in the letter. They also asked to know if the people they mentioned in the letter received direct communication and family visits.

The rapporteurs also asked the Vietnamese side to explain the measures taken to amend Articles 117 and 331 of the Criminal Code as well as ensure compatibility with Article 19 on freedom of opinion of representatives in the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The Vietnamese government was also asked to respond in detail to allegations of “systematic harassment, intimidation, and retaliation against human rights defenders, civil society organizations, journalists and bloggers.”

Nearly two months after the letter was sent, the Vietnamese government, through the Permanent Mission to the United Nations and international organizations in Geneva, Switzerland, on December 21 sent a response letter. However, in this letter, the Vietnamese side asked to extend the time limit for nearly two more months, until February 28, to respond to the requests of the United Nations Special Rapporteur group. According to OHCRH regulations, 60 days after the letter is sent, if the Vietnamese side does not reply, they will publish the letter, as it did recently.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has counted at least 63 people who were imprisoned by the Vietnamese government in the past year simply for expressing their opinions or joining groups deemed anti-government. Meanwhile, Reporters Without Borders ranks Vietnam third in the world, after China and Myanmar, in the number of journalists detained with 43 as of mid-December. However, a spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Hanoi in November said that Vietnam has always “respected, protected and promoted human rights, including freedom of speech and freedom of the press.”

Thoibao.de (Translated)

Source: https://www.voatiengviet.com/a/lien-hop-quoc-yeu-cau-viet-nam-phan-hoi-cac-vu-bat-giu-va-truy-to-tuy-tien/6401836.html

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