Vietnam courts reject appeals by two outstanding activists

Up to date at 06:52 ET on 8-17-22

This was a foul week for democracy in Vietnam, as two outstanding activists misplaced appeals in opposition to their jail sentences on Tuesday and one other two on Wednesday.

The provincial Individuals’s Court docket within the Central Highland province of Dak Lak, rejected the enchantment of Y Wo Nie whereas the Increased Individuals’s Court docket in Hanoi dismissed the enchantment of Le Van Dung on Tuesday.

In December the Hanoi Individuals's Court docket sentenced Phuong to 10 years in jail and 5 years’ probation. Tam was sentenced to 6 years in jail and three years’ probation.

The next day the appeals of Trinh Ba Phuong, 37, and Nguyen Thi Tam, 50, had been rejected. They had been each arrested on June 24, 2020 and charged with "conducting anti-state propaganda.” Phuong: is serving10 years in jail and 4 years' probation, Tam was jailed for six years with three months probation.

Y Wo Nie is a Protestant from the Ede ethnic minority. He was sentenced to 4 years by Cu Kuin district court docket on Could 20 this 12 months. He was charged with “abusing democratic freedom,” for reporting non secular persecution in his area to worldwide teams.

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His conviction was primarily based on an indictment claiming he took photos of three handwritten human rights experiences and despatched them to a number of worldwide organizations and in addition met with representatives of the US diplomatic mission in Vietnam.

Lawyer Nguyen Van Mieng informed RFA his shopper had modified his enchantment to protest his innocence.

“He modified his enchantment from asking for decreased imprisonment to whole freedom, saying that he was not responsible and didn’t violate Article 331 of the Prison Code,” Mieng mentioned.

The trial happened with no judicial skilled, witnesses or relations. Solely the defendant, lawyer and an Ede-Vietnamese interpreter.”

The lawyer mentioned Nie's spouse and relations weren’t allowed to enter the courtroom, in order that they, and greater than 100 different Ede folks, stood within the courtyard.

Mieng requested the appeals court docket to summon two examiners from the Division of Info and Communications of Dak Lak province and a diplomat from the U.S. Consulate Common in Ho Chi Minh Metropolis however his request was denied by the court docket.

The appeals panel didn’t point out a degree within the unique indictment saying that Nie met representatives of the U.S. Embassy and Consulate Common in Gia Lai province’s Pleiku metropolis in June 2020.

Pastor Nguyen Hong Quang, a former prisoner of conscience from Ho Chi Minh Metropolis, mentioned the sentence was predetermined.

"When the accused complains, the court docket ought to contemplate letting the lawyer current the explanations for the grievance. The independence of the court docket should be primarily based on the argument in court docket between the lawyer and the prosecutor and it is extremely unlucky that the proof was not utilized on this listening to and the ultimate court docket judgment,” Quang mentioned.

“Vietnam’s justice system has not been efficient in reforming and continues to be focusing on dissidents. These with alternative ways of considering can be severely punished, particularly relating to … the conduct of public authorities in the direction of the Protestant neighborhood within the Central Highlands.”

Mieng additionally mentioned the evaluation of the Division of Info and Communications didn’t observe rules and resembled the assertion by the State Division spokesman, coming to the identical conclusions as the unique indictment.

The indictment of the Individuals's Procuratorate of Dak Lak province states that Nie personally wrote three human rights experiences, took photos and despatched them by way of WhatsApp to "reactionary topics overseas."

Mieng mentioned the paperwork included a duplicate of “The Violation of Spiritual Freedom” and the content material of the report was despatched to the UN Fee on Human Rights and the U.S. Fee on Worldwide Spiritual Freedom.

The opposite two experiences had been on “The Scenario of Faith and Human Rights of the Ede ethnic folks within the Central Highlands,” and on “The Scenario of Spiritual Freedom in Common and in Specific for the Ethnic Individuals within the Central Highlands."

Nie was arrested in September 2021 for actions judged to "have an effect on the political safety scenario, social order and security and the traditional operation of State administrative companies, cut back the general public's confidence within the regime and have an effect on the picture of the State of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam in addition to the status of the Communist Occasion of Vietnam in worldwide diplomatic relations.”

That is Nie's second time in jail. He was sentenced to 9 years for “undermining the unity coverage,” a provision typically used to imprison non secular activists amongst many Montagnard ethnic minority teams within the Central Highlands.

A latest report on non secular freedom from the U.S. Fee on Worldwide Spiritual Freedom (USCIRF) additionally criticized the Vietnamese authorities's crackdown on the mountain dwelling non secular teams of the Central Highlands.

In keeping with Vietnamese NGO Defend the Defenders, there are presently greater than 60 non secular freedom activists imprisoned with lengthy sentences underneath the cost of "undermining the unity coverage." Most of them are Protestants from many ethnic minorities within the Central Highlands.

Le Van Dung livestreams on Fb in a Hanoi espresso store. CREDIT: Reuters

Le Van Dung’s enchantment lasts for much less that two hours

Additionally on Tuesday the Increased Individuals’s Court docket in Hanoi carried out the enchantment listening to of 52-year-old Le Van Dung. He was arrested in June final 12 months and in March this 12 months he was convicted of “conducting anti-state propaganda” and sentenced to 5 years in jail and 5 years of probation.

Dung’s enchantment solely lasted one hour and 45 minutes earlier than the court docket upheld his sentence.

Lawyer Dang Dinh Manh, who defended Dung at his enchantment, mentioned the listening to was too shallow.

“The court docket requested questions very briefly, didn’t go into depth or give time for debate. The court docket additionally minimize off the arguments of the lawyer,” Manh mentioned.

“Having beforehand labored with us we all know that Dung didn’t count on the enchantment listening to would change the result. So when he went to court docket his perspective was very relaxed, very calm and he was nearly smiling all through the listening to.”

In keeping with the lawyer, the Procurator had an perspective of not eager to argue and solely answered legal professionals’ questions vaguely.

“The legal professionals really raised plenty of points,” Manh mentioned. “I raised 4 points, however he solely argued with me over one subject with just one very brief sentence.”

“For instance, once we argued in regards to the subject of judicial experience, the Procurator mentioned that the assessors are granted the assessor’s license by the state, in order that they have the proper and full authority over the matter of experience and [they consider] their experience as such is lawful. They didn’t argue in opposition to many points we raised.”

In circumstances of “conducting anti-state propaganda” underneath Article 88 of the 1999 Penal Code or underneath Article 117 of the 2015 Prison Code, the defendants’ statements on social networks are often assessed by state companies.

The aim of the examination is to search out content material that’s alleged to violate the above legal guidelines.

Additionally in accordance with Dung's protection, the legal professionals couldn’t argue additional with the Procuracy as a result of the presiding decide interrupted, saying "there isn’t any additional consensus on something."

Manh mentioned Dung nonetheless insisted he didn’t break the legislation, however solely exercised his proper to freedom of expression as prescribed by the Structure.

“Nobody is stunned with the results of the listening to,” Manh mentioned. “All of us perceive the way in which the Vietnamese court docket works, so we don't count on an enormous change, not even a small change. Usually, we disagree with the accusations in opposition to Dung in each hearings."

The lawyer mentioned Dung shouldn’t have been arrested and prosecuted only for voicing his opinions for the reason that proper to freedom of expression is enshrined within the Structure. He mentioned the Vietnamese authorities additionally has a accountability to respect this proper, having signed the Worldwide Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

The hearings drew criticism from worldwide human rights organizations.

Human Rights Watch referred to as for the court docket to launch Le Van Dung, and accused the Vietnamese authorities of suppressing human rights.

“The politically motivated, completely bogus conviction of Le Van Dung needs to be quashed and he needs to be instantly launched, “mentioned Asia Regional Vice President Phil Robertson.

“Utilizing the Web to talk out about injustice and demand reforms shouldn’t be thought of a criminal offense. By prosecuting him, Vietnam exhibits what a dictatorial, rights-abusing state it has grow to be. Le Van Dung’s five-year jail verdict in March exemplifies the way in which officers retaliate in opposition to outspoken residents for merely talking their minds.”

Amnesty Worldwide Deputy Regional Director Ming Yu Hah additionally criticized the enchantment.

“This enchantment listening to as soon as once more exhibits the failure of the Vietnamese authorities to satisfy its human rights obligations,” she mentioned.

“Le Van Dung is an unbiased journalist and has fought for the liberty of expression of deprived teams in society, in addition to for social transparency. His efforts needs to be applauded, not jailed for talking his thoughts.”

“The Vietnamese authorities ought to instantly launch Le Van Dung and lots of different human rights activists, similar to Pham Doan Trang, Can Thi Theu, Trinh Ba Phuong, Trinh Ba Tu, and Nguyen Thi Tam."

“Dung is thought for his stay broadcasts on Fb underneath the identify CHTV, by means of which this journalist focuses on serving to farmers whose land has been expropriated to ‘declare their grievances’ and on the similar time present feedback on the socio-political scenario in Vietnam.”

This story has been up to date to incorporate the outcomes of appeals by Trinh Ba Phuong and Nguyen Thi Tam.

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