Attorneys in Vietnam say their ability to defend their clients in court is being undercut by threats and physical abuse the lawyers themselves face, often at the hands of state authorities.
Defense lawyers in civil cases and politically charged ones said they not only encounter the usual obstacles to their work in a country with a long history of corruption — long pre-trial detentions of clients, witness intimidation, and politically motivated charges — but they also have been threatened and, in some cases, beaten by police and investigators who want defendants to be found guilty.
Attorney Le Hoang Tung from Everest Law Firm filed a complaint after he was assaulted this month by an investigator while meeting with police officers in Ho Chi Minh City.
City police denied the accusation on Wednesday, saying that the investigator did not assault Tung and that the lawyer was injured when he slipped and fell. They failed to explain why there were shoe marks on Tung’s shirt — evidence supporting the accusation that the investigator kicked the lawyer.
In response, the Vietnam Bar Federation (VBF), which protects the rights of lawyers, submitted a request to police to investigate the incident, and to act against people who abuse attorneys or otherwise interfere with their ability to practice law.