Workshop banned, harassment of human rights defenders continues

22/05/2017
Press release

Geneva, Paris, May 22, 2017: Vietnamese authorities must stop harassing human rights defenders and allow them to exercise their fundamental right to freedom of expression, the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (an FIDH-OMCT partnership) said today.

“It is unacceptable that Vietnamese authorities treat individuals who merely seek to improve their professional skills as dangerous criminals. Vietnam’s relentless crackdown on human rights defenders must end,” said FIDH President Dimitris Christopoulos.

Last week, Vietnam’s Ministry of Public Security prevented a workshop on information management from taking place in Hanoi and warned that if the participants went ahead with the event, there would be “serious consequences”. Approximately 20 human rights defenders, bloggers, and independent journalists were expected to attend the workshop.

On the morning of May 20, 2017, police prevented several persons who were expected to participate from leaving their homes in Hanoi and a large group of officers were deployed just outside the workshop’s venue. As a result of the severe restrictions and serious risks faced by the participants, the organizers decided to cancel the event.

“The Vietnamese Government must uphold its human rights obligations and ensure that human rights defenders are able to carry out their activities without hindrance. Vietnamese authorities should encourage, not criminalize, capacity building initiatives for their civil society,” said OMCT Secretary General Gerald Staberock.

The Observatory condemns the ongoing attacks, threats, and acts of harassment and intimidation against human rights defenders across Vietnam. The Observatory urges the authorities to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights instruments ratified by Vietnam.

The right to freedom of expression is guaranteed by Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Article 19 states that everyone has the right to freedom of expression, which includes “freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds […].” Vietnam is a State party to the ICCPR.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by FIDH and 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 ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.

For more information, please contact:
• FIDH: Samuel Hanryon: +33 6 72 28 42 94 / Audrey Couprie: +33 6 48 05 91 57
• OMCT: Delphine Reculeau: +41 22 809 49 39

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