Vietnam: Arbitrary detention of woman human rights defender Dinh Thi Phuong Thao

Urgent Appeal

VNM 002 / 1119 / OBS 092
Arbitrary detention /
Judicial harassment /
Obstacles to freedom of movement
November 15, 2019

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. Dinh Thi Phuong Thao, a 28-year-old Vietnamese human rights defender and pro-democracy activist.

According to the information received, at approximately 9:30am on November 15, 2019, about 10 security officers from the Ministry of Public Security took Ms. Thao to an interrogation room at Hanoi International Airport upon her arrival from Bangkok, Thailand. At the time of the publication of this Urgent Appeal, it was not known on what charges Ms. Thao was being held. Ms. Thao had no access to a lawyer and was unable to communicate with her family members.

Ms. Thao returned to Vietnam after several years abroad campaigning for the improvement of Vietnam’s human rights record. Before leaving Vietnam in 2016, Ms. Thao had advocated for environmental protection in Hanoi, supported victims of police brutality, and denounced the use of the death penalty. During her time abroad from 2016 to 2019, Ms. Thao engaged with various United Nations human rights mechanisms, European Union bodies, foreign governments, as well as regional and international human rights NGOs in order to raise the international community’s awareness about the dire human rights situation in Vietnam. From 2016 to September 2019, Ms. Thao worked with the Vietnamese human rights NGO VOICE.

The Observatory strongly condemns Ms. Thao’s arbitrary detention, which seems to be merely aimed at punishing her for her legitimate human rights activities, and calls for her immediate and unconditional release. The Observatory also calls for an immediate end to all acts of harassment against her.

Actions requested:

i. Guarantee, in all circumstances, the physical integrity and psychological well-being of Ms. Dinh Thi Phuong Thao and of all human rights defenders in Vietnam.

ii. Release Ms. Thao immediately and unconditionally as her detention is arbitrary and merely aimed at punishing her for her human rights activities.

iii. Guarantee the access of Ms. Thao to her relatives and a lawyer of her choice.

iv. Put an end to any harassment against all human rights defenders in Vietnam, and ensure in all circumstances their freedom of movement and 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, 5(c), 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, November 15, 2019

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 and fax FIDH +33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80

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