December 23, 2021- UN Special Rapporteurs Ms. Irene Khan, Mr. Clément Nyaletsossi Voule, and Ms Mary Lawlor expressed concerns over the arrests and subsequent convictions of human rights defenders and journalists: Do Nam Trung, Trinh Ba Phuong, Nguyen Thi Tam and Pham Doan Trang. The four of them were charged with “distributing anti-state propaganda” under Vietnam’s Penal Code and sentenced to a collective total of 35 years of imprisonment.
These UN human rights experts note that the aforementioned human rights advocates are “only the latest victims of the authorities’ campaign to silence, intimidate and persecute writers, journalists and human rights defenders using vaguely defined propaganda laws” and that their arrest, detention, prosecution, conviction and sentencing is “an arbitrary deprivation of liberty under international human rights law."
They also emphasize their repeated calls to repeal the “overbroad and vague provisions” of Article 88 of the 1999 Criminal Code and Article 117 of the 2015 Criminal Code. The UN experts once again state that these two legal stipulations “violate international human rights norms on freedom of opinion and expression and of association.”
The UN experts end their statement by acknowledging that the actions of the Vietnamese government to prosecute and punish human rights defenders and civil society members are “an attempt not only to silence these individuals and organizations but also to impose a climate of fear leading to self-censorship” in order to dissuade them from “speaking out and cooperating with the United Nations human rights and other mechanisms."
Likewise, the UN Special Rapporteurs also reassure the public that they are in contact with the proper authorities regarding this situation.
The declaration of the UN experts is the latest among several reports and responses from international news agencies, organizations, and governments regarding this ongoing development. The full text of their statement can be found here.