August 23, 2017
An official lawyer’s organization in central Vietnam’s Phu Yen province has threatened to “discipline” an attorney known for representing defendants in political cases after he suggested that most members of his profession use bribery to influence trials.
Vo An Don, a Phu Yen-based lawyer who has defended hundreds of members of underrepresented communities on a pro-bono basis, told RFA’s Vietnamese Service Wednesday that he received a letter from the Phu Yen Lawyer’s Association on Aug. 18 informing him he would “face discipline” for posting a comment on Facebook which said lawyers in Vietnam regularly use payoffs to win cases for their clients.
“I have served as a lawyer in cases for poor people and political cases, and I always tell the truth,” he said.
“That’s why the authorities really hate me—because I have said things that no other lawyer dares to say. Therefore, they are trying to take revenge on me.”
According to Don, the central Vietnam Lawyer’s Association recently sent a letter to lawyer groups at the provincial level, banning their members from posting “lies” on social media.
“But nobody tells the truth—they only lie,” he said.
“The truth is so ugly, they are afraid of having it revealed.”
Don said that Vietnam’s Ministry of Justice recently issued a decree that bans lawyers from making comments they deem to be “untrue,” and which grants permission to lawyer’s associations at the provincial level to revoke law licenses—a measure that previously could only be taken with the approval of the Vietnam Lawyer’s Association.