Vietnam: Mr. Le Cong DINH, Human Rights Lawyer | Letter

Re: Mr. Le Cong DINH, Human Rights Lawyer

To: Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, et all

From: Darlene D. R. Kavka, LRWC Member

Date: 2009-12-22

I am a member of Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada, an organization dedicated to the promotion of human rights and protection of those who defend them. In June and August of 2009, I wrote on behalf of Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada to add our voice to the chorus of other Human Rights Organizations worldwide, calling on the authorities in Vietnam to effect the immediate, unconditional release of human rights lawyer, Le Cong Dinh.

Lawyers Rights Watch Canada takes the view Le Cong Dinh is being held solely as a result of his work in defence of human rights in Vietnam and is therefore a prisoner of conscience. He is not a criminal awaiting his fate for any crime committed. This is a very important distinction and one I urge you to keep in mind throughout the remainder of this letter. He has governed his 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 holding him that has placed Le Cong Dinh’s life in turmoil and jeopardy. We extend our concerns today to include fellow detainees, Nguyen Tien Trung, and Tran Anh Kim.

In my previous letters I sought the following action from your government:

1. The prompt release of Le Cong Dinh and immediate, thorough and impartial investigation into his arrest.

2. Assurances that the treatment of Le Cong Dinh, while in detention, would adhere 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 Le Cong Dinh, while he is detained and following his release.

4. That in all the circumstances Le Cong Dinh and other human rights defenders in Vietnam be able 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 continue to remind you that Vietnam has been a member state of the United Nations since the 20th of September 1977. For decades, Vietnam has championed itself as a nation committed to human rights and equality. In the face of these legal and moral obligations, how can any of you excuse this abuse of the human rights of Le Cong Dinh and his fellow detainees?

I am compelled to repeat my request 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 realization 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.”

I also reiterate my 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. Le Cong Dinh.

Examples of excerpts from your Constitution are set out as follows:

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 Le Cong Dinh and several of his fellow detainees soley for the peaceful exercise of their guaranteed right to freedom of expression. It is unfathomable that if found guilty of the fabricated charge they face the possibility of execution. The situation and conditions of these prisoners of conscience is inexcusable and we ask for your immediate protective intervention.

Moreover, we call on your government to release these prisoners unconditionally and drop all charges against them. We further ask that you ensure these prisoners are allowed access to their families, lawyers and any medical attention they may require. Please devote your efforts to ensuring that your government either repeals or amends provisions in the 1999 Penal Code that stand in contradiction to the valuable Human Rights legislation and human rights conventions which Vietnam has committed itself to abide by. It is unconscionable for Vietnam to continue to criminalize the peaceful expression of political views and freedom of speech.

We ask that you respond to this letter by informing Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada of the current condition of Mr. Le Cong Dinh. As stated earlier in this letter, it is of grave and pressing concern to human rights defenders worldwide that this human rights lawyer and his fellow prisoners of conscience be released from detention and that their lives and general well being be protected.