16 Rights Groups Call for Le Quoc Quan’s Release Ahead of Appeals Trial
February 13, 2014
Appeal trial scheduled for 18 February 2014
Jailed Vietnamese blogger and human rights lawyer Le Quoc Quan has launched a hunger strike to protest the refusal by prison authorities to provide him access to legal counsel, access to legal and religious books, and access to a priest for spiritual guidance, ahead of his appeal trial on 18 February 2014 in Hanoi. Le Quoc Quan has been imprisoned since 27 December 2012.
In 2013, the detention of Le Quoc Quan was condemned by the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention as a violation of his right to freedom of expression and his right to a fair trial. It found that Le Quoc Quan had been targeted for his work as a lawyer and a blogger and called for his immediate release or for his conviction to be reviewed by an independent court. It also recommended that Viet Nam pays damages to Le Quoc Quan for his arbitrary detention. The government of Viet Nam has yet to respond to this decision.
A broad coalition of NGO’s and networks from around the world call on the government of Viet Nam to comply with the decision of the United Nations Working Group and release Le Quoc Quan immediately: Media Legal Defence Initiative, Media DefenceSoutheast Asia, Lawyers for Lawyers, Avocats Sans Frontières, Front Line Defenders, Access, English PEN, Reporters Without Borders, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, ARTICLE 19, Index on Censorship, Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada, the National Endowment for
Democracy, the World Movement for Democracy, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and PEN International. They concluded that the conviction and ongoing detention of Le Quoc Quan are arbitrary and violate his internationally protected rights to liberty, timely access to
legal counsel and a fair trial. The UN Working Group stated that “the real purpose of the detention and prosecution might eventually be to punish him for exercising his rights [to freedom of expression] and to deter others from doing so.”
Notes to editors:
- Le Quoc Quan was arrested on 27 December 2012 on baseless charges of tax evasion. Following his arrest, he was held incommunicado and denied permission to see his lawyer for two months. Repeated requests by his family to visit him were also denied. Mr Quan first saw a family member at his trial on 2 October 2013, at which he was convicted of evading corporate income tax and sentenced to 30 months imprisonment and a fine of 1.2 billion dong (approximately USD 59,000). He has appealed this decision.
- The government of Viet Nam has long persecuted Le Quoc Quan for his human rights work. In 2007, after representing numerous victims of human rights violations, he was disbarred from practicing as a lawyer on suspicion of engaging in “activities to overthrow the regime”. He has been arrested several times for continuing his human rights advocacy.
Following an attack by unknown assailants in August 2012, he was hospitalised. The attack was never investigated by the police.
- The decision of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention can be downloaded from the website of the Media Legal Defence Initiative by clicking here.
For more information, please contact:
Nani Jansen, Senior Legal Counsel, Media Legal Defence Initiative: email@example.com and +44 780 540 4089
Gail Davidson, Executive Director, Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada: firstname.lastname@example.org and +1 604 738 0338
Adrie van de Streek, Executive Director, Lawyers for Lawyers: email@example.com and +31 626 274 390
Jochai Ben-Avie, Policy Director, Access Now: firstname.lastname@example.org and +1 347 806 9531
HR Dipendra, Director, Media Defence – Southeast Asia: email@example.com and +60 13 366 1222
Eva Galperin, Senior Policy Analyst, Electronic Frontier Foundation: firstname.lastname@example.org and +1 415 436 9333
Benjamin Ismail, Head Asia-Pacific Desk, Reporters Without Borders: email@example.com and +33 1 44 83 84 70
Mary Lawlor, Executive Director, Front Line Defenders: firstname.lastname@example.org
Cat Lucas, Writers at Risk Programme Manager, English PEN: email@example.com and +44 20 7324 2539
Nathalie Muller Sarallier, Avocats Sans Frontières Network: firstname.lastname@example.org and +33 5 34 31 78 50
Kirsty Hughes, Chief Executive, Index on Censorship: email@example.com
Judy Taing, Asia Programme Officer, Article 19: firstname.lastname@example.org and +1 (646) 725-1444
Sally Blair, Senior Director, Fellowship Programs, National Endowment for Democracy: email@example.com and +1 202 378 9700
Art Kaufman, Senior Director, World Movement for Democracy: firstname.lastname@example.org and +1 202 378 9700
Cathy McCann, PEN International: email@example.com and +44 (0) 207 405 0338
- Le Quoc Quan on Hunger Strike (pdf)