August 24, 2016
We are concerned by reports that the pre-trial incommunicado detention of prominent Vietnamese human rights lawyer Mr. Nguyen Van Dai has been extended by four months until December 2016. Our Office calls on authorities to immediately release Mr. Van Dai and his assistant Ms. Le Thu Ha who were arrested on 16 December 2015 and charged with conducting “anti-state propaganda” activities under Article 88 of the Penal Code.
Legal representatives and family members have been denied contact with Mr. Van Dai and Ms. Le Thu Ha. Authorities have refused to provide information about their whereabouts and health conditions.
The Human Rights Council, the Committee against Torture and the Special Rapporteur on Torture state that prolonged incommunicado detention may facilitate the perpetration of torture and can in itself constitute a form of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or even torture.
We urge the Vietnamese Government to abide by its legal obligation to take all necessary means to prevent torture and ill-treatment of persons held in custody in line with the Convention against Torture and the International Covenant on Political and Civil Rights (ICCPR) – both of which Viet Nam is party to.
Our Office reiterates our calls on the Vietnamese Government to stop using vague and broad provisions related to “national security” to silence human rights defenders, activists and bloggers. The detention and conviction of activists for the peaceful exercise of their fundamental rights, including through the use of Article 88 on “conducting propaganda against the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam”, are not in line with international standards. Viet Nam is a party to the ICCPR which guarantees the right to freedom of expression and liberty.
We are also concerned by news that Mr. Nguyen Huu Quoc Duy and Nguyen Huu Thien An, two cousins, were sentenced on 23 August to 3 years and 2 years in prison respectively, for posting articles on Facebook criticizing policies of the Vietnamese government and insulting the Communist Party. They were also charged under Article 88 of the Penal Code, which carries a jail of up to 20 years.
File photo: Vietnamese dissident lawyer Nguyen Van Dai is seen standing trial on closed circuit television at Hanoi’s People’s Court, 11 May 2007. EPA/JULIAN ABRAM WAINWRIGHT