UPR of Vietnam: Advocacy Charter Lawyers for Lawyers and Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada

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Stakeholders’ submission

(1) In the last years, the crackdown on freedom of expression has intensified. Reports indicate that in 2017, Viet Nam authorities have detained or exiled many peaceful activists and bloggers. Human rights lawyers who work on sensitive cases frequently face reprisals either in relation to their own human rights advocacy or their legal representation of people seen as critical of the Government. They are subjected to, amongst other things, threats, harassment and intimidation. Some lawyers have been the victim of physical attacks in connection to their legitimate advocacy. See Joint submission (JI) L4L & LRWC, par.10

A number of lawyers in Viet Nam have even been subjected to arrests and prosecution in connection to their professional activities or in relation to their human rights advocacy. See JI L4L & LRWC, par.11

(2) Governments must protect lawyers from unfair or arbitrary disciplinary proceedings. Disciplinary action against lawyers must be based solely on a code of professional conduct consistent with recognized ethical and professional standards including the Basic Principles and determined by an independent tribunal after a fair hearing conducted in accordance with international due process requirements. Before the UPR review of Viet Nam in 2014, several leading human rights lawyers had been disbarred, including lawyers Le Cong Dinh, Nguyen Van Dai, and Le Quoc Quan. More recently, other lawyers have been disbarred or are facing disbarment or other disciplinary actions on improper grounds. See JI L4L & LRWC, par.12

Suggested Questions

(1) How does the Viet Nam ensure that lawyers can discharge their professional duties and engage in human rights advocacy free from threats, intimidation, physical attacks and other forms of harassment?

(2) How does the Viet Nam ensure that lawyers can exercise their professional duties and engage in human rights advocacy without being subjected to arbitrary arrest and detention illegitimate prosecutions and other punishments in reprisal?

(3) How does Viet Nam ensure that crimes, harassment and other violations against lawyers are effectively investigated, publicly condemned at all levels and that perpetrators are identified and held accountable?

(4) How does Viet Nam ensure that lawyers not suffer or be threatened with prosecution or other punishments for the legitimate exercise of their professional duties or their right to engage in human rights advocacy?

(5) How does Viet Nam ensure that lawyers are not subjected to suspension, disbarment or other disciplinary proceedings as a result of properly discharging their professional duties?

Suggested Recommendations

(1) Take immediate measures to ensure that sufficient safeguards are in place, both in law and in practice, to guarantee the full independence and safety of lawyers and their effective protection against all forms of retaliation, including arrests, detention, prosecution and violence, in connection with their professional activity and/or engagement in human rights advocacy.

Immediately take effective measures necessary to ensure that crimes, harassment, and other violations against lawyers and their families are effectively investigated and publicly condemned at all levels, and that the perpetrators of such acts are prosecuted or otherwise held accountable.

Immediately ensure protection and safeguarding of lawyers facing insecurity as a result of discharging their functions, in line with principle 17 of the Basic Principles.

Take all steps necessary to reverse convictions and waive sentences imposed under Articles 109 (or the former Article 79) and/or 117 (or the former Article 88) of the Penal Code including convictions of Nguyen Van Dai, Le Thu Ha and redress violations of their internationally protected rights, including steps to ensure:

  • Immediate and unconditional release of these individuals, and in the case of Nguyen Van Dai and Le Thu Ha, their return to Viet Nam without risk of loss of liberty;
  • Compensation for the violations of each individual’s rights and their loss of liberty.

(2) Refrain from any actions that may constitute harassment, persecution, or undue interference in the work of lawyers, including their suspension, disbarment, or other disciplinary actions or criminal prosecution based on improper grounds such as the expression of critical views or the nature of the cases that the lawyer is involved in.