The Conviction On Sept. 22, 2016, the Hanoi People’s Court held a first-instance trial  for Vu Van Binh,
The UN Human Rights Office, International NGOs, and Diplomatic Missions Call on Vietnam to Halt Execution of Death-Row Prisoner Nguyen Van Chuong
International Organizations Petition To Halt Execution of Death-Row Prisoner Nguyen Van Chuong
A coalition of more than 10 international human rights organizations on Aug. 9 sent an open letter to Vietnam State President Vo Van Thuong urging him to immediately intervene and halt the impending execution of innocent death row prisoner Nguyen Van Chuong. Chuong, a native of Nam Dinh Province, was accused of murdering a police officer in the port city of Hai Phong in 2007. In a trial a year later, he was convicted of homicide and sentenced to death in 2008.
Previously, on Aug. 4, 2023, Chuong’s family received a notice from the People’s Court of Hai Phong informing them that they could apply in writing to receive their son’s corpse or ashes within three working days following the execution, implying that their son’s execution is expected to be carried out shortly.
In the letter, the undersigned groups have expressed deep concern over allegations of an unfair trial, the use of coerced confessions, and the possibility of torture during his detention. They also requested that the Vietnamese authorities “initiate a prompt, impartial and effective investigation into allegations” that Chuong was tortured during the interrogation to give a forced confession. The signatories pointed out the discrepancies and manipulation of the evidence and witnesses in the trial of Chuong.
The international human rights advocates also petitioned Hanoi to adopt the global trend towards abolishing the death penalty and establishing a moratorium on the use of capital punishment. The letter also noted that the death penalty constitutes a denial of the right to life enshrined in Article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Vietnam is a state member. Using torture and coercion to extract involuntary confessions violates Article 15 of the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (UNCAT).
Regarding the solution to the case of Nguyen Van Chuong, the signatories collectively urged the Vietnamese government to notify Nguyen Van Chuong's family about his current status without delay; grant an immediate and permanent reprieve from the impending execution; ensure a fair trial in compliance with international standards, or else release him; initiate a thorough and impartial investigation into allegations of torture and coercion leading to confessions; and impose a moratorium on executions and work towards abolishing the death penalty in Vietnam.
After the Hai Phong court announced its decision to carry the death penalty for Nguyen Van Chuong, social media users in Vietnam created an online petition on Avaaz.org, requesting President Vo Van Thuong to halt Chuong’s execution. The online petition gained nearly 3,500 signatures as of Aug. 7, VOA News reported. As of today, this petition has more than 5,600 signatures.
Other Vietnamese citizens sent text messages to Thuong, asking him to acquit the death-row prisoner since there were many ambiguities regarding his prosecution and conviction. Nguyen Truong Chinh, Chuong’s father, on Aug. 6, used his blood to sign another petition sent to President Thuong, pleading with him to suspend the execution immediately.
On Aug. 10, the European Union (EU) delegation to Vietnam and the diplomatic missions of Canada, Norway, and the United Kingdom issued a joint statement calling on the Vietnamese authorities to halt the execution of Nguyen Van Chuong. The foreign missions added that they “strongly oppose the use of capital punishment at all times and in all circumstances,” which is “a cruel, inhuman, and degrading punishment.” They also advocate for Vietnam to adopt a moratorium on all executions.
On Aug. 11, the UN Human Rights Office also weighed in, urging the Vietnamese authorities to halt the execution of Nguyen Van Chuong immediately and initiate an independent and impartial investigation into the allegations of torture.
Vietnam’s State media has remained silent on the impending execution of Nguyen Van Chuong. Dan Viet, a local online news site, was the only newspaper in Vietnam that reported on the case of Chuong. Dan Viet’s article, published on Aug. 4, contained interviews with Le Van Hoa, who is the legal consultant of Chuong’s family. Hoa shed light on numerous violations of due legal process and pointed out the police’s disregard for Chuong’s alibi witnesses.
A Court In Dong Nai Secretly Sentences An Activist To Prison
The People’s Court of Thong Nhat District, Dong Nai Province, sentenced Hoang Van Vuong, a Vietnamese activist, to five years in prison for “abusing democratic freedoms” in a trial last April. RFA reported that Vuong did not have a defense attorney, and his family was not informed about the trial.
Vuong, 45, a local democracy activist, was arrested by Thong Nhat District Police on January 3, 2023. A day later, the Investigative Police Bureau of Thong Nhat District Police sent a notice to inform Vuong’s family about his temporary detention. The authorities did not give any specific reasons for his arrest. A relative of Vuong, who asked to remain anonymous, told Radio Free Asia (RFA) on Aug. 7 that the notice was “the only document” Vuong’s family had received from the local authorities regarding his arrest.
The relative said they only learned about the activist’s conviction after receiving a phone call from Dong Nai Provincial B5 Detention Center in early May. The authorities said that Vuong was being held at the center and that his family could register for visits. The family went to the detention center and was told that Vuong had been sentenced to five years for “abusing democratic freedoms” under Article 331 in a trial on April 18.
Hoang Van Vuong told his family that he made an appeal against the sentence after the first-instance trial but later decided to withdraw the application. Vietnam’s state media have not reported on his arrest and conviction.
Vuong has been a vocal critic on social media since 2011. He was arrested and beaten in the 2010s for participating in peaceful demonstrations against Beijing’s infringement on Vietnam's sovereignty in the South China Sea, which Vietnam refers to as the East Sea. Several activists said that Vuong regularly helps the families of prisoners of conscience and activists in need, despite his family's difficult economic situation. In 2018, he was repeatedly summoned by Thong Nhat District Police for speaking out against the discharge of wastewater by Sonadezi Service Joint Stock Co. in Bien Hoa City.
Ha Tinh Court Convicts Two Social Media Users Of “Abusing Democratic Freedoms” Following Their Criticisms Of Local Officials
A court in Vietnam’s northern central Ha Tinh Province on Aug. 8 sentenced Hoang Thi Son, 65, and Thai Thi Be, 67, both residents of Huong Khe District, to 15 months in prison each on the charge of “abusing democratic freedom to infringe upon the interests of the state and the legitimate rights and interests of organizations and individuals” under Article 331 of the Penal Code.
According to State media, Son and Be were accused of using different social media platforms to publish content that “distorts, insults the honor, and discredits the government authorities, state agencies, and leaders of Huong Khe District.”
Previously, the two residents of Ha Tinh reportedly expressed their disagreement with provincial authorities on social media regarding the province’s responses to and settlement of their earlier complaints. State media did not specify what issues Son and Be complained about or about how the Ha Tinh officials responded.
In several videos that were widely shared on social media, Thai Thi Be accused the commune leaders and the party committee of Phuc Trach Village in Ha Tinh of abusing their authoritative positions to infringe on public land, forge signatures, and create false documents to embezzle state land worth over 3 billion dong ($126,300). The court deemed such content “distorted” and “untrue.”
The indictment concluded that between Nov. 23, 2022, and Feb. 6, 2023, Son used her phone to live stream a video and posted seven articles that “infringed on the prestige and honor of the members of the Citizen Reception Committee of Huong Khe District, and the leaders of Huong Khe District.”
Meanwhile, between Feb. 7, 2023, and April 19, 2023, Be was said to have posted 12 video clips on her Youtube account “Thi Bé Thai” and 36 video clips on another account named “Thai Be.” The court claimed that her videos contained misleading and untruthful content regarding the local government’s handling of her complaints.
In addition to the respective 15-month prison sentence, the Huong Khe Court also ordered the confiscation of three mobile phones from Son and Be.
Vietnamese Man Hospitalized After Being Beaten By Police
A Vietnamese man in Binh Phuoc Province was hospitalized after the police chief of a commune in the province beat him. The video recording of the police chief beating the man had widely circulated on social media and sparked outrage among the Vietnamese public.
State media reported that at around 9 am on Aug. 9, the police of Binh Son Commune received reports that a tricycle in the area could be evidence of a theft. The police then went to the scene to investigate, according to the Phu Rieng District Police, Binh Phuoc Province.
Dau Ngoc Hoan, 28, a local resident, claimed that the tricycle was his and that he was waiting for it to get fixed. Hoan refused to let the police tow it away without proper documentation of the confiscation. After that, Hoan was seen sitting in the vehicle to keep it from being taken away.
After exchanging conversations, the police officer yelled loudly, “You won't answer me, will you?” He then suddenly used his foot to kick and punch the man repeatedly. When passers-by stopped to record the beating, the police officer shouted and ordered them to “go away.” He continued to assault the man, who was seen being beaten and not resisting. Hoan’s relatives said his head and ears were injured and bled following the assault. The victim was taken to the hospital for examination.
Vietnam Denies Its Suppression Of Ethnic Minorities In Response To UN Letter
In September 2022, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and three Special Rapporteurs communicated to the Vietnamese government regarding rights violations of the Montagnard indigenous community. The letter raised concerns over Hanoi’s mistreatment of Y Cung Nie, Y Thinh Nie, and Y Don Nie, who belong to the Montagnard indigenous community, RFA reported.
The Montagnards are a group consisting of 30 different Central Highlands tribes who have clashed with the government over a variety of issues, including land rights and religious freedom.
The three ethnic men mentioned in the communication had previously sent documents requesting Vietnamese authorities to guide them on how religious minority groups could register for collective spiritual practice in compliance with the law. But instead of responding, local police arrested them and threatened them with fines or imprisonment if they persisted in meeting up with religious groups the government did not approve of.
In its letter of reply, the Vietnamese government denied the existence of the Montagnard indigenous community. It accused the three men of being affiliated with FULRO, a French acronym for the United Liberation Front of the Oppressed Races, which was once dedicated to driving the Vietnamese from the Central Highlands. The government also said that the men were fined for breaking the law and that this was not related to the fact that they submitted applications to the government asking for guidance on registering religious activities.
In late November 2022, Secretary of State Antony Blinken placed Vietnam on the United States Special Watch List for violating or tolerating severe violations of religious freedom. Over the past few years, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom has repeatedly requested the Biden Administration to include Vietnam on the Country of Particular Concern list for its systematic violations of religious freedom.
Berlin Warns Hanoi Not To Abduct Vietnamese Businesswoman Nguyen Thi Thanh Nhan
The German government has warned Vietnam of “serious diplomatic consequences” if Hanoi attempts to abduct Nguyen Thi Thanh Nhan, a Vietnamese businesswoman who fled to Germany to avoid prosecution, RFA reported.
Nhan, the former chairwoman and general director of Advanced International Joint Stock Co. (AIC), was sentenced to 30 years in absentia by a Vietnamese court last January for masterminding bid-rigging to win 16 contracts to supply medical equipment to several Vietnamese hospitals.
Berlin has refused to extradite Nhan to Vietnam, and the German government has said that it “will not tolerate any foreign countries’ interference in German territory.”
The warning issued by the German government comes after a similar incident in 2017 when Vietnamese agents kidnapped Vietnamese oil executive Trinh Xuan Thanh from Berlin. Thanh fled to Germany to avoid the regime’s prosecution of his alleged corruption at PetroVietnam, a state company. The kidnapping sparked a temporary diplomatic crisis between the two countries, and Germany expelled two Vietnamese diplomats.
Nhan also had a role in negotiating arms deals between Vietnam and Israel on behalf of Hanoi. Although Vietnamese state media reports that Nhan is wanted for bid-rigging, Israeli media reported that the search for Nhan resulted from infighting within the Vietnamese government regarding weapons procurement, as she was the broker of several arms deals between the two countries.
Biden Says He Will Visit Vietnam “Shortly”
Reuters reported that U.S. President Joe Biden announced while speaking at a political fundraiser in New Mexico that he will be traveling to Vietnam “shortly” as Hanoi wants to elevate its relationship and become a significant partner with Washington.
Washington has been working to elevate ties with Hanoi to a “strategic” partnership from the current “comprehensive” level. This is partly due to the growing threat China poses in the region. Previously, in April, Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressed a desire to deepen ties as Washington seeks to solidify relations with partners in Asia to counter an increasingly assertive China.
Vietnam has been cautious about deepening ties with the United States in the past due to concerns about reactions from China and Russia. China is a crucial supplier of vital inputs essential to Vietnam’s export economy.
Biden’s trip to Vietnam is expected to occur in September after he attends the G20 summit in India.
Experts say the closer relationship between the United States and Vietnam could include increased military cooperation. However, there are potential hurdles to the military deals as some U.S. lawmakers might hold this up due to concerns about Vietnam's human rights record.
Vietnam Insight: Learn more about Vietnam
Flexing Censorship Muscles and Leveraging Public Sentiments: How The Vietnamese State Scrambles to Sanitise Its Image Online
ISEAS - Yusof Ishak Institute/ Dien Nguyen An Luong/ July 26
“Vietnamese authorities have consistently defended their censorship decisions by stating that the content in these programmes provoked public outrage. Using discourse analysis, this paper examines how much that rationale genuinely reflects the sentiments of the public at large. It explores how the Vietnamese government leverages popular public sentiments to justify its censorship of these Netflix shows, with the ultimate aim of safeguarding the regime’s image in the digital space.”
RFA/ Zachary Abuza/ August 5
“Second, the Supreme Court determined that repayment of three-fourths of the pilfered funds would make defendants eligible for a degree of clemency.
For example, prosecutors had sought the death penalty for a secretary of a deputy minister of health, but upon repayment of the full 42 billion dong ($1.8 million), the court handed him a life sentence, saying “There is no need to remove from society.”
While it’s important for the government to recoup the proceeds of crime and ensure that people do not benefit from corruption, the ruling also creates a sense that justice can be bought. Local media raised the question of whether filling state coffers was more important than punishing people who extorted bribes from citizens during the pandemic.”