Vietnam: Nguyen Van Dai, lawyer and human rights activist | Letter

Re: Nguyen Van Dai, lawyer and human rights activist

To: President Nguyen Minh Triet, and others

From: John K. Cotter, BA, MA, JD

Date: 2007-03-08

LRWC is very concerned for the safety of Mr. Nguyen Van Dai, a lawyer and human rights activist. We have received information from The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders that he has been arrested. This arrest was made on March 6, 2007, by security forces at his home. He is being held in Cell 17-19 of Pre-Detention Centre No. 1, and is charged with “conducting propaganda against the Socialist Republic of Vietnam” (Article 88 of the Criminal Code).

This past November, he founded the Committee for Human Rights in Vietnam; since then he has been repeatedly questioned by the police. Further, the license of his firm – the Translation and Legal Consultation Firm (TNHH) has been withdrawn by the Business Registration Office of the Planning and Investment Bureau in Hanoi.

LWRC and The Observatory consider Mr. Nguyen Van Dai’s detention to be arbitrary. The only purpose of this detention is to curtail his activities in favour of human rights in Vietnam. Such acts of reprisals against human rights defenders are in clear violation of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders. This Declaration was adopted on December 9, 1998, by the United Nations General Assembly, which states in its article 12.2 that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration”.

We therefore urge upon the Socialist Republic of Vietnam the following:

1. Guarantee the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Nguyen Van Dai;
2. Release him immediately and unconditionally from this arbitrary detention;
3. Put an end to all acts of harassment against him and against all defenders of human rights in Vietnam;
4. Comply with the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders (referenced above) especially article 1, which provides 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”, 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”, and article 12.2 above-mentioned;
5. Comply with international human rights standards included in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rights instruments Ratified by the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.

I hope that your government will address these concerns as soon as possible. We urge you to do your utmost to ensure that all persons acting on behalf of your government respect the international human rights standards to which the Socialist Republic of Vietnam is legally and morally bound.