- For defenders
- How can I help?
Human rights defenders (HRDs) in Vietnam are seen by the authorities as “troublemakers” and in most cases are treated as “enemies of the State”. Front Line Defenders has documented incidents where human rights defenders have been accused by State officials and government's media of being “foreign spies or agents”, “traitors”, or “violators of public order and peace”. HRDs working particularly on the issue of transparency and democratic reforms have been branded as advancing foreign interests and values. Human rights defenders have been subjected to intimidation, threats, interrogation, harassment, arbitrary arrest and detention, and ill-treatment while in prison. When put on trial, they are very often sentenced to heavy jail terms for their human rights work.
Ms Margaret Sekkaggya, the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders stated that she remained "concerned for the physical and psychological integrity of human rights defenders in Vietnam, particularly those who have been given long prison sentences and those who are in custody awaiting trial". She also highlighted her concerns on restrictions on the rights to freedom of expression and assembly.
Provisions of the Penal Code related to national security are regularly used to stifle human rights activities. Common charges against human rights defenders include “conducting propaganda” (Article 88), “spying” (Article 80) and “undermining the unity policy" (Article 87).
It is common for human rights defenders to face administrative and legal harassments. Many defenders are victims of arbitrary detention and criminalisation. Most often they are not informed of the reasons for their arrest or why their request of bail is denied. Many have been charged under the allegation that they are planning to overthrow the Communist Party and are sentenced to lengthy jail terms.
In all the cases that Front Line Defenders has documented, family members of arrested human rights defenders are not informed of their whereabouts. Detained HRDs also do not have access to lawyers and families until many weeks after their arrest. Human rights lawyers who represent human rights defenders or communities affected by human rights violations are often abused and disbarred from their respective bar association.
Emblematic is the case of Vi Duc Hoi who is a democracy activist and member of Bloc 8406, a pro-democracy network of human rights defenders and organisations. The network began working in 2006 by publishing a Manifesto on Freedom and Democracy in Vietnam. Vi Duc Hoi has been in prison since January 2011. At times detained HRDs are intentionally transferred to remote locations, thus making it more difficult for their families to visit them.
There is no independent, privately-run media – domestic newspapers, television and radio stations are strictly controlled by the state. Internet communication is also strictly controlled and restricted.
22 May 2013
15 April 2013
19 March 2013
08 February 2013
20 December 2012
Vietnam: Trial of seven human rights defenders currently being held incommunicado to take place on 30 May 2011
- 1 of 2