Legal Initiatives for Vietnam (LIV) – the operator of Luat Khoa Magazine and The Vietnamese Magazine – strongly condemns the Vietnamese government for criminalizing the activities of Bao Sach (Clean Newspaper) and the five members of the group.
Vietnam prosecuted the Bao Sach group members under Article 331 of the 2015 Penal Code (the revision of Article 258 of the 1999 Penal Code). The international community and legal authorities have strongly criticized these two penal codes because they arbitrarily criminalize the act of “abusing democratic freedoms to infringe upon the interests of the State, lawful rights and interests of organizations and/or citizens” without defining the actual conduct of the offense. Previous cases being prosecuted under Articles 331/258 – including this Bao Sach case – illustrate that Vietnam criminalizes certain acts and conduct that should have been in the jurisdiction of the civil court system.
We declare that the investigation, arrest, and prosecution of the members of Bao Sach show that Vietnam violates its citizens’ freedom of speech, free press, and economic freedoms. When we read the formal indictment against Bao Sach members, we can clearly see that even if these members have infringed upon the interests of the State, another individual, or another entity, the legal issue should be under the civil court system or a judicial arbitration rather than prosecuting them criminally.
A person being silenced, a newspaper, or a media organization being closed down arbitrarily is a danger for any society. As a non-profit organization that works in journalism, LIV strongly condemns these violations that Vietnam commits and demands that the government release immediately and unconditionally all of the Bao Sach members and cease all of the criminal allegations against them.
We also call on other journalists and the public in general to join with us and support the rights and freedoms of all of the Bao Sach group members and demand Vietnam abolish Article 331 of the 2015 Penal Code.
Trinh Huu Long, Co-Director
Tran Quynh Vi, Co-Director