Vietnam: Cu Huy Ha Vu, Lawyer | Letter

Re: Cu Huy Ha Vu, Lawyer

To: President of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam, Nguyen Tan Dung, et al

From: Darlene D. R. Kavka, LRWC Member

Date: 2011-04-10

I am a member of Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada (“LRWC”), an organization dedicated to the promotion of human rights and protection of those who defend them, in Canada and elsewhere in the world. I am writing out of dire concern for the safety and well being of our colleague in the legal community, Cu Huy Ha Vu.

Specifically, LRWC wishes to add its voice to that of our fellow human rights defenders, worldwide, in their condemnation of the recent, legally indefensible conviction Cu Huy Ha Vu. Mr. Ha Vu is a lawyer who has dedicated his life to the cause of peaceful, legal, activities promoting cultural, environmental, civil and political rights. He has dedicated his career to the better good of the people of Viet Nam. The charges brought against Mr. Ha Vu are politically motivated and devoid of any semblance of legitimacy. His recent conviction and seven year prison sentence make a travesty of the numerous human rights and legal rights treaties to which Viet Nam is a signatory.

It is our observation that Mr. Ha Vu has been persecuted solely as a result of his work in defence of human and environmental rights in Vietnam and is therefore a prisoner of conscience. He is not a criminal under the provisions of Viet Nam law despite his recent conviction. This is a very important fact to bear in mind and one I urge you to consider throughout the remainder of this letter. Mr. Ha Vu has governed his peaceful activities to conform to the laws and covenants of his nation’s legal system. It is the inconsistent and politically motivated application of those laws by the officials persecuting him that has placed Mr. Ha Vu’s life in turmoil.

LRWC seeks the following action from your government:

1. The prompt release of Mr. Ha Vu and the immediate, thorough and impartial investigation into his arrest and conviction.

2. Assurances that the treatment of Mr. Ha Vu, while in detention, adheres to all principles and conditions set out in the ‘Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under any Form of Detention or Imprisonment, adopted by the UN General Assembly resolution 43/173 of 9 December 1988′.

3. That all required measures be taken to guarantee the physical and psychological protection, integrity and security of Mr. Ha Vu, while he remains detained and following his release.

4. That in all the circumstances Mr. Ha Vu and other human rights defenders in Vietnam be permitted to carry out their legitimate human rights based activities without fear of reprisals and, moreover, that they be free of all restrictions including judicial or officially sanctioned harassment.

In support of our above requests we once again remind you that Vietnam has been a member state of the United Nations since the 20th of September 1977. For decades, Vietnam has promoted itself as a nation committed to human rights and championing equality. We must ask: In the face of these admirable legal and moral obligations, how can any of you sanction this blatant abuse of Mr. Ha Vu’s human rights ?

LRWC is compelled to request, as we have done in the past for others, that you immediately comply with the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, and in particular:

a. Article 1, which states that, “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”,

b. Article 6(b), which states that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others … to publish, impart or disseminate to others views, information and knowledge on all human rights and fundamental freedoms.”

We also repeat our ongoing request that you immediately mobilize to protect and defend Vietnam’s Constitution, given that it expressly prohibits the persecution and arbitrary detention of citizens such as Mr. Ha Vu.

We call to your specific attention the following examples and excerpts from your Constitution:

a. Article 69 of the Vietnam Constitution states,

“The citizen shall enjoy freedom of opinion and speech, freedom of the press, the right to be informed, and the right to assemble, form associations and hold demonstrations in accordance with the provisions of the law.”

b. Article 146 establishes the supremacy of the Constitution and states,

“[t]he Constitution of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam is the fundamental law of the State and has the highest legal effect. All other legal documents must conform to the Constitution.”

It is both disappointing and disheartening to learn that your government officials have not only failed to comply with their legal obligation to protect the human rights of its citizenry, they have fabricated charges against Mr. Ha Vu, for daring to exercise of his guaranteed right to freedom of expression. It is unfathomable that and inexcusable that in the year 2011, Mr. Ha Vu and other such prisoners of conscience continue to be convicted in the Viet Nam courts, without recourse to independent legal advice or public hearings. We seek your immediate protective intervention in respect of Mr. Ha Vu and his immediate release.

It is in fact long overdue that the government of Viet Nam release not only Mr. Ha Vu, but all such prisoners of conscience, unconditionally. Moreover, the time has come to throw out the litany of illegitimate convictions that have been registered against each of them. Until such a release is affected, we seek assurances that Mr. Ha Vu be allowed access to his family, lawyers and that he receive any medical attention he may require. Please turn your efforts to ensuring that your government abandons it systematic repression of free speech. If Viet Nam is to have any credibility as a member of the international community it must honour its own word and commitments and cease criminalizing the peaceful expression of political views.

As stated earlier in this letter, it is of grave and pressing concern to human rights defenders worldwide that Mr. Ha Vu, a respected human rights lawyer, be released from detention and that his life and well being be protected. In closing, we ask that you respond to this letter by informing LRWC of the current condition of Mr. Ha Vu.