Re: Mr. Nguyen Van Hai (also known as Dieu Cay), Mr. Phan Thanh Hai, and Ms. Ta Phong Tan
To: H.E. Mr. Pham Binh Minh, Minister of Foreign Affairs; H.E. Mr. Nguyen Thai Binh, Minister of Internal Affairs; H.E. Mr. Tran Dai Quang, Minister of Public Security; H.E. Mr. Ha Hung Cuong, Minister of Justice
From: Darlene D. R. Kavka, LRWC Member; Catherine Morris, LRWC Member
Date: September 27, 2012
Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada (“LRWC”), is dedicated to the promotion of human rights and advocacy for human rights defenders worldwide. For some time, LRWC has been gravely concerned about the physical safety and fundamental human rights of these three journalists who have advocated for international human rights in Vietnam, particularly freedom of expression.
Mr. Nguyen Van Hai (aka Dieu Cay), Ms. Ta Phong Tan, and Mr. Phan Thanh Hai were tried on September 24, 2012 and sentenced to 12, 10, and four years in prison respectively. As a result of their writing of blog articles and advocating freedom of expression, they were convicted of conducting “anti-state propaganda.” The trials conducted on September 24, 2012 lacked all semblance of legitimacy or adherence to international human rights law and principles.
LRWC condemns these convictions and sentences, all of which are completely contrary to international human rights principles, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) ratified by Vietnam in 1982.
LWRC requests your immediate intervention to ensure that Mr. Dieu Cay, Mr. Phan Thanh Hai, and Ms. Ta Phong Tan are immediately released from detention, and to guarantee their safety and well being.
LRWC reminds your government that Vietnam has been a member of the United Nations since the 20th of September, 1977. Since that time, Vietnam has promoted itself as a nation that is committed to human rights and equality, and has ratified many of the core human rights treaties of the United Nations.
LRWC also draws your attention to the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1998 without a vote. This powerful consensus of all the member States of the United Nations means that Vietnam both endorsed and committed itself to the support foundational values in the Declaration, including those reproduced below:
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.
1. Each State has a prime responsibility and duty to protect, promote and implement all human rights and fundamental freedoms, inter alia, by adopting such steps as may be necessary to create all conditions necessary in the social, economic, political and other fields, as well as the legal guarantees required to ensure that all persons under its jurisdiction, individually and in association with others, are able to enjoy all those rights and freedoms in practice.
2. Each State shall adopt such legislative, administrative and other steps as may be necessary to ensure that the rights and freedoms referred to in the present Declaration are effectively guaranteed.
(b), “…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.”
Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to the lawful exercise of his or her occupation or profession. Everyone who, as a result of his or her profession, can affect the human dignity, human rights and fundamental freedoms of others should respect those rights and freedoms and comply with relevant national and international standards of occupational and professional conduct or ethics.
1. Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to participate in peaceful activities against violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
2. 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. (emphasis added)
3. In this connection, everyone is entitled, individually and in association with others, to be protected effectively under national law in reacting against or opposing, through peaceful means, activities and acts, including those by omission, attributable to States that result in violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms, as well as acts of violence perpetrated by groups or individuals that affect the enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
The internationally unlawful convictions of Mr. Dieu Cay, Mr. Phan Thanh Hai, and Ms. Ta Phong Tan are in flagrant violation of their right to freedom of expression that is guaranteed by Article 19 and other provisions of the ICCPR. Your government has failed in its international law responsibilities to protect them from illegal prosecution and political persecution.
LRWC seeks the following immediate action from your government:
- Immediately release Mr. Dieu Cay, Mr. Phan Thanh Hai, and Ms. Ta Phong Tan from detention;
- Guarantee the physical and psychological safety and integrity of Mr. Dieu Cay, Mr. Phan Thanh Hai, and Ms. Ta Phong Tan, and all other human rights defenders in Vietnam;
- Ensure that the treatment of Mr. Dieu Cay, Mr. Phan Thanh Hai, and Ms. Ta Phong Tan 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′. This Body of Principles was also adopted by consensus, and we call upon your government to live up to the international expectations of adherence to them.
- Ensure that Mr. Dieu Cay, Mr. Phan Thanh Hai, and Ms. Ta Phong Tan and all other human rights defenders in Vietnam are guaranteed their right to continue in their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and, moreover, that they be free of all restrictions including judicial or officially sanctioned persecution and oppression.
It is long overdue that the government of Vietnam unconditionally release not only Mr. Dieu Cay, Mr. Phan Thanh Hai, and Ms. Ta Phong Tan, but all such prisoners of conscience. Moreover, the time has come to overturn all illegal convictions that have been registered against any and all of them. LRWC calls upon Vietnam to abandon its systematic repression of the right to freedom of expression. Vietnam must adhere to its international legal obligations. In particular, Vietnam must cease the illegitimate criminalization of peaceful, lawful expression of political views.
LRWC would appreciate an immediate response to this letter to advise of the current condition of Mr. Dieu Cay, Mr. Phan Thanh Hai, and Ms. Ta Phong Tan and to inform us as to your efforts to reverse the grave injustices and violations of international human rights that have been perpetrated against each of them.