Vietnam's Online Speech Restrictions Under Spotlight at LIV's Second Virtual Seminar

Vietnam's Online Speech Restrictions Under Spotlight at LIV's Second Virtual Seminar

During LIV’s second virtual seminar, held on June 27, 2024, guest speaker Dr. Nguyễn Quốc Tấn Trung, a Ph.D. in Public International Law and visiting scholar at the Hague Academy of International Law, presented on Vietnam's restrictions on online freedom of speech and expression. The seminar was hosted by Trinh Huu Long, LIV co-founder and editor-in-chief of Luật Khoa Magazine.

Dr. Trung’s presentation focused on two main points. First, he categorized the various restrictions and interventions imposed by the Vietnamese government on online expression and explained their implementation. Second, he discussed how international institutions and laws perceive and evaluate these regulations in Vietnam.

In the first half of the seminar, Dr. Trung categorized Vietnam’s regulations on online expression into four types: Conceptual Intervention, “Organic” Intervention, Institutional Intervention, and Punitive Intervention, and provided detailed explanations of each. He emphasized that these four regulative interventions collectively form an effective and comprehensive system. This system can thrive due to the inaction and tolerance of Western liberal democracies, the proliferation of short-form content and misinformation that hinders the work of human rights organizations and workers, and the Vietnamese government's potential misuse of artificial intelligence.

In the latter part of the seminar, Dr. Trung discussed how international human rights law views Vietnam’s restrictions on online speech and expression. He highlighted that online freedom of expression is protected under Sections 1 and 2 of Article 19 of the International Convention on Political and Civil Rights (ICCPR), which generally affirms everyone’s right to freedom of expression. However, he then pointed out that the Vietnamese government justifies its regulations against online freedom of expression by invoking Section 3 of the same article, which allows restrictions when national security, public order, public health, or morals are involved.

Dr. Trung ends his presentation by arguing that the “deliberate vagueness” and “absolute criminalization” in Vietnam’s online freedom of expression regulations make them unlawful and illegitimate. 

Due to the numerous questions and high engagement from seminar participants, the second session of LIV’s online seminar series concluded later than expected. Despite this, Dr. Nguyễn Quốc Tấn Trung responded with exceptional knowledge and professionalism, adequately addressing each inquiry and providing additional insight for the attendees.

The final part of LIV’s online seminar series will be held on July 2, 2024, 8:30 PM - 9:30 PM, Vietnam time. Further information regarding the event can be found here.

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