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Case History: Nguyen Van Dai

Status: 
Charged
About the situation

On 30 July 2017, after over 19 months since his arrest, Vietnamese authorities charged human rights defender Nguyen Van Dai with “carrying out activities with the purpose of overthrowing the Peoples’ administration”. If convicted, he faces a prison sentence of between 12 and 20 years, life imprisonment or capital punishment.

About Nguyen Van Dai

Nguyen Van DaiNguyen Van Dai is the co-founder of the Vietnam Human Rights Committee and a pro-democracy activist. He has provided legal assistance to citizens vocal against human rights violations committed by the government and members of religious minorities and has faced judicial harassment in the past.

30 July 2017
Nguyen Van Dai charged with anti-state activities after 19 months in pre-trial detention

On 30 July 2017, after over 19 months since his arrest, Vietnamese authorities charged human rights defender Nguyen Van Dai with “carrying out activities with the purpose of overthrowing the Peoples’ administration”. If convicted, he faces a prison sentence of between 12 and 20 years, life imprisonment or capital punishment.

On 30 July 2017, following 19 months of investigative detention, Nguyen Van Dai was charged with “carrying out activities with the purpose of overthrowing the Peoples’ administration” under article 79 of the Penal Code by the Ministry of Public Security. Upon his arrest on 16 December 2015, he was charged under article 88 of the Penal Code, related to “spreading propaganda against the Socialist Republic of Vietnam”. It remains unclear whether Nguyen Van Dai is still facing this charge or not.

Front Line Defenders strongly condemns the charges against, and prolonged detention, of human rights defender Nguyen Van Dai, and calls on the Vietnamese authorities to immediately release the human rights defender.

15 May 2017
Nguyen Van Dai likely on hunger strike as pre-trial detention is extended for the fourth time

15 May 2017 marks one month since human rights lawyer Nguyen Van Dai last accepted a food package from his family. According to the authorities at the Hanoi-based B14 detention facility, Nguyen Van Dai has since rejected food supplements from his relatives, in a likely bid to protest the extension of his pre-trial detention. On 21 April 2017, the Supreme People’s Procuracy of Vietnam extended the investigation period into Nguyen Van Dai by two months, bringing his total pre-trial detention to 18 months.

In a letter sent to Nguyen Van Dai’s lawyer Ha Huy Son dated 21 April 2017, the Supreme People’s Procuracy announced it had extended the investigation period prior to the Court taking up the case by two months. Nguyen Van Dai has been held in Hanoi since 16 December 2015, after he was arrested by the police for “conducting propaganda against the state of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam”, which falls under article 88 of the Vietnamese Penal Code. After the initial four months pre-trial detention period ended, the police extended it three times for four months each. The investigation period was supposed to end on 16 April 2017. The Court will only take up the case once the investigation is over, leaving Nguyen Van Dai behind bars. If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison.

Since his arrest, Nguyen Van Dai has not been allowed to meet with his lawyer, while his wife has only been permitted to visit him twice, on 16 December 2015 and on 17 January 2017. According to the Vietnamese Code of Criminal Procedure, Nguyen Van Dai’s lawyers will be allowed to meet with him to prepare his defence once the police agency completes its investigation.

The conditions in Vietnamese jails and detention facilities are extremely poor and families of prisoners often have to provide food packages for them periodically. Prisoners are also allowed to receive money from their relatives to purchase food and other items at the jail’s canteens, which often sell substandard goods at prices much higher than those in the market.  Nguyen Van Dai’s rejection of food packages from his family points to a worrying development and there are legitimate fears for his health.

On 3 April 2017, Nguyen Van Dai was awarded the 2017 Human Rights prize by the German Association of Judges. His wife Vu Minh Khanh was blocked at Noi Bai airport on her way to attend the event in Germany.

Front Line Defenders condemns the Supreme People's Procuracy of Vietnam’s decision to extend the pre-trial detention of Nguyen Van Dai and urges the Vietnamese authorities to drop all charges brought against him, as it believes they are directly linked to his peaceful and legitimate work in defence of human rights in Vietnam.
 

25 October 2016
73 MPs on four continents call for the release of Nguyen Van Dai

On 24 October 2016, 73 members of parliament from around the world sent an open letter to Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc calling for immediate  and unconditional release of Vietnamese lawyer Nguyễn Văn Đài and his assistant Lê Thu Hà. 

Read the Open Letter Here

22 December 2015
Human rights defender Nguyen Van Dai arrested a week after being brutally beaten

On 16 December 2015, Nguyen Van Dai was arrested by the police for "conducting propaganda against the state of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam", which falls under article 88 of the Vietnamese Penal Code. The house of the human rights defender was searched and several belongings were confiscated, including: two laptops, one desktop computer, several USB sticks, a camera, two camcorders, books on human rights, four envelopes containing money that Nguyen Van Dai uses to support relatives of prisoners of conscience in Vietnam, and his savings account’s bank book. The human rights defender will be temporarily jailed for four months at the B14 Prison in Hanoi. His case is currently under investigation and if convicted he could face up to twenty years in prison.

This is not the first time Nguyen Van Dai has been detained by Vietnamese authorities. He was arrested in 2007 on charges of propaganda against the state and spent four years in prison, and then spent a further four years under house arrest. Despite an official release from house arrest in March 2015, the human rights defender has been kept under police surveillance.

The situation for human rights defenders in Vietnam has become increasingly tense in recent months, as the Vietnamese government has tightened control ahead of the ruling communist party’s National Congress in January 2016. There is a persistent pattern, in recent months, of physical assaults against human rights defenders and bloggers which are perpetrated either by police officers or unidentified people against government critics and social activists.

Former prisoners of conscience Do Thi Minh Hanh, Truong Minh Duc, Tran Minh Nhat, Chu Manh Son and Tran Duc Thach, human rights lawyers Nguyen Van Dai, Tran Thu Nam and Le Van Luan, bloggers Truong Van Dung, Tran Thi Nga, Truong Minh Huong and Nguyen Tuong Thuy are among the victims of the intensified persecution by Vietnam’s security forces, which strive to prevent the formation of any opposition parties or movements.

9 December 2015
Human rights defenders attacked and beaten by masked individuals

On 6 December 2015, masked plain clothes agents, travelling in two cars without registration plates and five motorbikes, stopped the group of human rights defenders, who was travelling in a taxi to Hanoi.

The agents beat the four human rights defenders and the driver with iron batons. Vu Van Minh, Ly Quany Son and Le Manh Thang managed to escape from the attackers, however Nguyen Van Dai was further beaten. The attackers robbed all four men's mobile phones, wallets and other items.

The situation for human rights defenders in Vietnam has become increasingly tense in recent months, as the Vietnamese communist government has tightened control ahead of the ruling communist party’s National Congress in January 2016. There is a persisting pattern of physical assaults against human rights defenders and bloggers which are perpetrated either by police officers or unidentified people against government critics and social activists in recent months. Former prisoners of conscience Do Thi Minh Hanh, Truong Minh Duc, Tran Minh Nhat, Chu Manh Son and Tran Duc Thach, human rights lawyers Tran Thu Nam and Le Van Luan, bloggers Truong Van Dung, Tran Thi Nga, Truong Minh Hương and Nguyen Tuong Thuy are among the victims of the intensified persecution by Vietnam’s security forces which strive to prevent the formation of any opposition parties or movements.