The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), has received new information and requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Viet Nam.
According to the information received, on April 17, 2012, the trial of Mr. Dieu Cay, Mr. Phan Thanh Hai and Ms. Ta Phong Tan was supposed to be held before the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Court, but was postponed due to a dissension between the Public Security Bureau (PSB) on the one hand, and the People’s Prosecutor’s Office and the Court on the other.
According to a declaration made last week by a Judge of Ho Chi Minh City who wants to remain anonymous, the PSB is requesting harsh sentences to be pronounced against them, while the People’s Prosecutor’s Office and the Court would prefer lighter sentences. According to the information received, the PSB would be requesting the court to sentence Mr. Dieu Cay, Mr. Hai and Ms. Tan, to, respectively, 14 to 16 years’ imprisonment, 12 to 14 years’ imprisonment and seven to nine years’ imprisonment. The trial should be scheduled after the anniversary of Vietnamese Communist Party’s victory on April 30, 2012.
The Observatory was also informed that through the same above-mentioned declaration, the Judge of Ho Chi Minh City reportedly advised the accused to plead guilty in order to avoid harsh prison sentences.
The Observatory is deeply concerned about the ongoing arbitrary detention of Mr. Dieu Cay, Mr. Hai and Ms. Tan, and denounces the judicial harassment faced by the three bloggers and human rights defenders as it seems to merely aim at sanctioning their human rights activities. Accordingly, the Observatory urges the Vietnamese authorities to drop all arbitrary charges brought against them and to immediately and unconditionally release them.
Mr. Dieu Cay was arrested in April 2008 and sentenced to two and a half years in prison at an unfair trial on trumped-up charges of “tax evasion” in September 2008. In fact, he had written articles calling for human rights and democratic reforms posted on the Internet, and staged demonstrations during the Beijing Olympic games. In 2009, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention declared Mr. Dieu Cay to be a victim of arbitrary detention (Opinion 1/2009).
Mr. Dieu Cay was due for release on October 19, 2010 after having completed his prison term. However, his family was then informed that he would remain in detention under the new charge of “propaganda against the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam” (Article 88 of the Vietnamese Criminal Code). This Article provides sentences from 10 to 20 years imprisonment.
Since this second charge was pronounced, Mrs. Duong Thi Tan, his wife, and her family have been denied all contacts with him, and both the police and judiciary systematically refuse to give any information on his case and whereabouts. Thus, he has not had any contact with his family for the past 18 months. In 2011, his wife travelled thirteen times to Ho Chi Minh City Security Police Investigations Department where he was previously detained, but was turned back by the police each time.
On July 5, 2011, Mrs. Duong Thi Tan was told by Lt.-Colonel Dang Hong Diep of the Ho Chi Minh City Security Police Investigations Department that Mr. Dieu Cay had “lost his hand or arm” whilst in detention (the Vietnamese expression is “mất tay”, which could mean losing either a hand or an arm).
This prolonged pre-trial detention is a violation of national and international law, including Article 120 of the Vietnamese Criminal Procedures Code, which limits pre-trial detention to a maximum of four months that may only be extended in “serious cases”.
On January 17 and 20, 2012, Mrs. Duong Thi Tan, was authorised to send food parcels through the police to her husband for the Lunar New Year. On February 1, she went to the Ho Chi Minh City Security Police Investigations Department to ask for a receipt signed by her husband, which is routine practice for all prisoners’ families. Lieutenant-colonel Pham Van Tan, the officer in charge, would not receive her, and delegated a young police officer to take her complaint. When she explained the situation, he went inside the office and returned with a receipt. The signature was a mere scribble. It was definitely not Mr. Dieu Cay’s signature, she said. On February 6, 2012, she then went to the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Office of Supervision and Control (the People’s Procuracy or Vien Kiem sat), to ask for news of her husband. She had written to the Office seven times before finally obtaining an appointment. However, when she arrived, they refused to receive her, and told her not to bother coming again.
As for Mr. Phan Thanh Hai and Ms. Ta Phong Tan, they were arrested respectively on October 18, 2010 and on September 5, 2011 and are reportedly held in detention at the siege of the Ho Chi Minh City Security Police Investigations Department (Phan Dang Luu Street), along with Mr. Dieu Cay. They are also prosecuted under Article 88 of the Criminal Code because of their defence of freedom of expression through their blogs. Before his arrest, Mr. Phan Thanh Hai published in particular an analysis outlining that Article 88 of the Criminal Code violates the right to freedom of expression enshrined in the Constitution, and that it shall be abrogated. Ms. Ta Phong Tan posted articles on police abuse and violations of human rights by the State.
Please write to the authorities in Viet Nam urging them to:
i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Dieu Cay, Mr. Phan Thanh Hai and Ms. Ta Phong Tan as well as of all human rights defenders in Viet Nam;
ii. Release Mr. Dieu Cay, Mr. Phan Thanh Hai and Ms. Ta Phong Tan immediately and unconditionally as their detention seems to merely sanction their human rights activities and is contrary to national and international law;
iii. Put an end to all acts harassment, including at the judicial level, against Mr. Dieu Cay, Mr. Phan Thanh Hai and Ms. Ta Phong Tan; as well as against all human rights defenders in Viet Nam;
iv. Comply with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1998, in particular:
its Article 1, which states that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”,
as well as Article 12.2, which provides that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration”;
v. More generally, ensure in all circumstances the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international and regional human rights instruments ratified by Viet Nam.
H.E. Mr. Pham Binh Minh, Minister of Foreign Affairs, 1 Ton That Dam St., Ba Dinh District, Hanoi, Vietnam; Tel: 84-4-37992000; 080 48235; Fax: 84-4-38231872 – 84-4-37992682, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
H.E. Mr. Nguyen Thai Binh, Minister of Internal Affairs, 37A Nguyen Binh Khiem St., Hai Ba Trung District, Hanoi, Vietnam; Tel: 84-4-39764116 – 84-4-39764278; Fax: 84-4-39781005
H.E. Mr. Ha Hung Cuong, Minister of Justice, 56-60 Tran Phu St., Ba Dinh District, Hanoi, Vietnam; Tel: 84-4-37336213 – 84-4-37338068; Fax: 84-4-38431431
H.E. Mr. Tran Dai Quang, Minister of Public Security, 44 Yet Kieu St., Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi, Vietnam; Tel: 84-4-069 42545 - 84-4-048 226602; Fax: 84-4-9420223
H.E. Mr. Vu Duc Dam, Minister, Office of the Government (OOG), 1 Hoang Hoa Tham St. Ba Dinh District, Hanoi, Vietnam; Tel: 84-4-80 43100 ; 84-4-80 43569; Fax: 84-4-80 44130
H.E. Mr Vũ Dũng, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotential, Permanent Representative, 30 chemin des Corbillettes, 1218 Grand-Saconnex, Geneva, Switzerland; Tel (Assistant): +41 022-791 85 40; Phone: +41 (0) 22 791 85 40; Fax : +41 (0) 22-798 07 24; Email : email@example.com
HE Mr. PHAM Sanh Chau, Ambassador, Boulevard Général Jacques 1, 1050 Brussels, Belgium. Tel: +32 (0)2. 379 27 37 ; Fax : +32 (0)2. 374 93 76; Email : firstname.lastname@example.org - email@example.com
Please also write to the embassies of Viet Nam in your respective country.
Paris-Geneva, April 30, 2012
Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.
To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
Tel and fax FIDH + 33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80
Tel and fax OMCT + 41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29