Ahead of an appeal hearing on Thursday (13 July 2023) for Truong Van Dung, a human rights defender who was convicted for “propaganda against the government” and sentenced to six years in March 2023 solely for freely expressing his views, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director of Campaigns Ming Yu Hah said:
“The Vietnamese authorities are yet again misusing the criminal justice system to suppress dissent. Arrested for giving interviews to foreign media, Truong Van Dung should have never been put in prison in the first place. The Vietnamese authorities must drop these trumped-up charges and immediately and unconditionally release Dung.
“The hearing on Dung’s appeal occurs amid an ongoing crackdown on people who hold diverse or critical views towards the government and against independent civil society organizations in Viet Nam. Many others have been locked away in prisons under shocking conditions, without adequate food or medication, simply for exercising their right to freedom of expression.
“The unfair charges and inhumane prison conditions shows the Vietnamese authorities’ willingness to systematically silence dissent in direct violation of international human rights law. Its ratification of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment (CAT), along with their seat on the UN Human Rights Council, appears to be no more than empty gestures.”
On 21 May 2022, activist Truong Van Dung was arrested under Article 88 of the 1999 Criminal Code on “propaganda against the government” charges. He was sentenced to 6 years in prison on 28 March 2023, accused of giving interviews to foreign media and possessing copies of two “illegally printed books” authored by imprisoned journalist Pham Doan Trang and former prison activist Pham Thanh Nghien, respectively.
Dung has protested against corruption and human rights violations in Viet Nam since at least 2010. He has actively spoken and advocated for other unfairly imprisoned activists, fought for transparency and anti-corruption, and promoted land rights and environmental issues.
During the first instance hearing, Dung accused the police of beating him in the course of the investigation. Thus far, the authorities appear not to have investigated his allegations of ill-treatment.
Torture and other ill-treatment is prohibited under international law, including under CAT and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, both of which Viet Nam has ratified.