Re: Mr. Nguyen Van Hai (also known as Dieu Cay), Mr. Phan Thanh Hai and Ms. Ta Phong Tan
Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada (LRWC), is dedicated to the promotion of human rights and the defence of human rights advocates worldwide. I write again, on behalf of LRWC, urging release of Nguyen Van Hai (Mr. Dieu Cay) and measures to ensure his safety before and after release. It is with deepened concern that LRWC adds its voice, once again, to that of other international human rights organizations, calling on the government of Vietnam to take the measures required by international law to protect the liberty and freedom of expression of two other human rights proponents, also journalists and also facing illegitimate charges and illegal detention: Mr. Phan Thanh Hai and Ms. Ta Phong Tan.
LWRC has received credible reports indicating that all three of the above named journalists are prisoners of conscience who have been denied their rights to freedom of speech and liberty as a result of their outspoken defence of human rights inVietnam. They each face the prospect of an illegitimate trial and long sentences, all contrary to the treaties and conventions endorsed byVietnam.
Vietnamhas been a member state of the United Nations since the 20th of September 1977. Since that time, Vietnamhas promoted itself as a nation committed to human rights and equality. On 24 September 1982 Vietnamagreed to be legally bound by the provisions of the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights. This Convention imposes on Vietnam the legal duty to ensure rights to liberty, freedom of expression, and a fair trial before an independent and impartial tribunal. The UN Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (Declaration), adopted by the General Assembly in December 1998 enlarges on the freedoms of expression, assembly and public discourse protected by the ICCPR. Specifically the Declaration provides,
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.
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.
It appears that Dieu Cay, Phan Thanh Hai and Ta Phong Tan have been arrested and detained and are being prosecuted as punishment for exercising their internationally protected freedoms of speech assembly and to engage in public discourse on issues of public concern. International law set out in the ICCPR and the Declaration imposes on Vietnam a duty to protect these freedoms in part by preventing and punishing violations and providing access to remedies. The duty to prevent violations extends to controlling the actions of state actors.
LRWC calls on the Government of Vietnam to take remedial measures to ensure:
1. the release of Dieu Cay, Phan Thanh Hai and Ta Phong Tan;
2. the treatment of Dieu Cay, Phan Thanh Hai and Ta Phong Tan while detained, 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′ and that any violations are investigated and suspects prosecuted;
3. protection of the rights of Dieu Cay, Phan Thanh Hai and Ta Phong Tan and other human rights defenders inVietnamto continue their legitimate human rights based activities without fear of reprisals including judicial or officially sanctioned persecution.
I repeat my earlier assertion that it is long overdue that the government ofVietnamrelease not only Mr. Dieu Cay, Mr. Phan Thanh Hai and Ms. Ta Phong Tan, but all such prisoners of conscience, unconditionally. Moreover, the time has come to throw out the litany of illegal convictions that have been registered against any and all of them. Please devote your efforts to ensuring that your government abandon its systematic repression of free speech.Vietnammust endeavour to honour its own word and follow through on its international commitments by ceasing to criminalize the peaceful expression of political views.
In closing, I ask that you respond to this letter by informing LRWC of the current condition and status of Mr. Dieu Cay, Mr. Phan Thanh Hai and Ms. Ta Phong Tan and a prompt update on what efforts are being made to remedy the grave injustices that has befallen each of them.
Darlene D. R. Kavka,
 LRWC is a committee of lawyers who promote human rights and the rule of law internationally by protecting advocacy rights. LRWC campaigns for advocates in danger because of their human rights advocacy, engages in research and education and works in cooperation with other human rights organizations. LRWC has Special Consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.