Vietnam: Arbitrary detention of Ms. Pham Thi Doan Trang

Urgent Appeal

VNM 001 / 1020 / OBS 111
Arbitrary detention /
Incommunicado detention /
Judicial harassment
October 14, 2020

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Vietnam.

Description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the arbitrary detention of Ms. Pham Thi Doan Trang, author, blogger, journalist, and pro-democracy activist. She is the editor of the online magazine Luât Khoa[1] and the founder of the Liberal Publishing House[2]. As a journalist, she contributes regularly to several independent news sites. As an author, she wrote many books, including one defending the rights of Vietnam’s LGBT communities. She was awarded the Reporters Without Borders 2019 Press Freedom Prize for Impact[3].

According to the information received, on October 6, 2020, at about 11.30 pm, Ms. Pham Thi Doan Trang was arrested by the police at her home in Ho Chi Minh City and subsequently charged with “making, storing, distributing or disseminating information, documents and items against the Socialist Republic of Vietnam” under Article 117 of the Vietnam’s Criminal Code. If convicted, she could face up to 20 years in prison. She was later transferred to Detention Center No. 1 in Hanoi’s Tu Liem District, where she is currently being detained incommunicado. Ms. Trang has had no access to a lawyer since her arrest.

Ms. Trang’s arrest occurred a few hours after the annual US-Vietnam Human Rights Dialogue in Hanoi. The meeting addressed several human rights issues, including the rule of law, freedom of expression and association, religious freedom, and labour rights.

This is not the first time Ms. Pham Thi Doan Trang has been arrested for the legitimate exercise of her right to freedom of opinion and expression. Since 2009, Ms. Trang has been subjected to arbitrary arrests, violent physical attacks, and other acts of harassment by the authorities on numerous occasions. She was first arrested in August 2009 in for her advocacy against China-backed bauxite mining projects in Vietnam. In May 2016, police arrested her in Ninh Binh Province to prevent her from attending a meeting with then-US President Barack Obama in Hanoi. In February and May 2018, she was briefly detained by police on two separate occasion. In August 2018, she was severely beaten by the police because of her activities as an online journalist.

The Observatory strongly condemns the arbitrary detention and judicial harassment of Ms. Pham Thi Doan Trang, which seem to be only aimed at punishing her for her legitimate human rights activities and for the exercise of her right to freedom of expression.

The Observatory calls on the Vietnamese authorities to immediately release Ms. Pham Thi Doan Trang and put an end to any acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against her and all the human rights defenders in the country.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Vietnam asking them to:

i. Guarantee, in all circumstances, the physical integrity and psychological well-being of Ms. Pham Thi Doan Trang and of all other human rights defenders in Vietnam;

ii. Immediately and unconditionally release Ms. Pham Thi Doan Trang as her detention is arbitrary and merely aimed at punishing her for her human rights activities;

iii. Guarantee the access of Ms. Pham Thi Doan Trang to her relatives and a lawyer of her choice;

iv. Put an end to any harassment, including at the judicial level, against Ms. Pham Thi Doan Trang and all human rights defenders in Vietnam, and ensure in all circumstances that they are able to carry out their legitimate activities without any hindrance or fear of reprisals.

v. Conform to the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, in particular with Articles 1, and 12.2.

vi. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by Vietnam.


• Mr. Nguyen Phu Trong, President of Vietnam; Email:
• Mr. Nguyen Xuan Phuc, Prime Minister of Vietnam; Email:
• Mr. Pham Binh Minh, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Vietnam; Fax: 84-4-38231872 – 84-4-37992682, Email:
• Mr. Le Vinh Tan, Minister of Home Affairs of Vietnam; Fax: 84-4-39781005
• Mr. Le Thanh Long, Minister of Justice of Vietnam; Fax: 84-4-38431431
• Mr. To Lam, Minister of Public Security of Vietnam; Fax: 84-4-9420223
• Mr. Mai Tien Dung, Minister, Office of the Government (OOG), Vietnam; Fax: 84-4-80 44130
• Permanent Mission of Vietnam to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland; Fax: +41 (0) 22-798 07 24, Email:
• Embassy of Vietnam in Brussels, Belgium; Fax: +32 (0)2 374 93 76, Email:

Please also write to the diplomatic representations of Vietnam in your respective countries.

Paris-Geneva, October 14, 2020

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT). The objective of this programme is to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. FIDH and OMCT are both members of, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.
To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
• E-mail:
• Tel FIDH +33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18
• Tel OMCT +41 (0) 22 809 49 39

[1] Luât Khoa is an online magazine that specialises in providing information about legal issues.
[2] The Liberal Publishing House is the only independent publishing house in Vietnam.
[3] See :

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