Vietnam: Letter to the UN Special Rapporteurs on the arbitrary detention of Le Quoc Quan | Letter

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To: Frank La Rue, UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression; Mr. Maina Kiai, UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association; Mrs. Margaret Sekaggya, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders

From: Media Legal Defence Initiative; Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada; Lawyers for Lawyers; Access Now; Media Defence – Southeast Asia; Electronic Frontier Foundation; Reporters Without Borders; Frontline Defenders; English PEN; Avocats Sans Frontières; Network Index on Censorship; and Article 19

Re: the matter of Mr. Le Quoc Quan and the Government of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam – Request for Relief Pursuant to Resolutions 7/36, 16/4, 15/21, 7/8 and 16/5

Date: March 13, 2013

Executive Summary

This Letter of Allegation respectfully requests the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association and the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders (“the Joint Rapporteurs”) to investigate and intervene in the unlawful arrest and detention of lawyer, blogger and human rights defender Le Quoc Quan. The signatory organisations request the Joint Rapporteurs to declare any continuing detention of Mr. Quan a violation of his human rights.

Mr. Quan is currently arbitrarily detained by the Government of Viet Nam due to having exercised his right to freedom of expression, right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association, as well as his activities as a human rights defender.

Mr. Quan is a qualified lawyer, active blogger and human rights defender. On his popular blog he exposes human rights abuses commonly ignored by Vietnamese state media. Prior to being disbarred from law in 2007, Mr. Quan defended human rights cases in court.

Mr. Quan has been repeatedly harassed by State authorities because of his work. On 27 December 2012, he was arrested and charged with “tax evasion”. He has been detained incommunicado for the first two months and has had access to counsel only twice.

Mr. Quan is being prosecuted for the lawful exercise of rights conferred to him by the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights and the ICCPR. In line with the mandates of the respective Special Rapporteurs, investigation into the following violations is sought:

Violation of right to freedom of expression: Mr. Quan’s arrest and detention due to his critical blog posts violate Article 19 of the UDHR and the ICCPR, which protect the right to freedom of expression. As a party to the ICCPR since 1982, Viet Nam is obliged to guarantee this right.

Violation of the right to freedom of peaceful assembly: Mr. Quan’s history of arrests for non-violent protest suggests that his current detention stems from his affiliation with dissidents such as Cu Huy Ha Vu and Pham Hong Son.  Therefore, the arrest and detention of Mr. Quan contravene Article 20 of the UDHR and Article 21 and 22 of the ICCPR.

Violation of the protection of human rights defenders: Given that Mr. Quan’s daily work specifically promotes the protection of human rights, his subsequent arrest represents a breach of his rights as outlined in the recommendations adopted in the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, 1999.

Accordingly, the signatory organisations respectfully request the Joint Rapporteurs to intervene urgently to

  1. secure the immediate release of Le Quoc Quan; and
  2. declare Le Quoc Quan’s continuing detention a violation of his human rights.

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