The Swiss-Vietnam Committee (COSUNAM) sent an open letter to the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) calling on Swiss officials to closely monitor the upcoming trial of six Brotherhood for Democracy members on April 5.
April 1, 2018
Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA)
Human Rights Section
On the occasion of Federal Councilor Doris Leuthard’s visit to Vietnam on Monday April 2, 2018, three days before six human rights defenders go on trial on April 5, the Swiss-Vietnam Committee and the Collectif des Amis would like to draw the DFAE and the Swiss people’s attention to the human rights situation in Vietnam, particularly and on restrictions to freedom of expression.
More than 20 journalist citizens were arrested and exiled in 2017, with many sentenced to lengthy prison sentences simply for simply reporting on social issues in Vietnam. Such sentences were given in trials which lasted less than four hours. The defense is systematically cast aside. This is the worst crackdown against freedom of expression and free access to information in the last twenty years.
What is the meaning of a “strategic partnership” with Switzerland when human rights are still denied? When does Vietnam intend to put an end to the series of arbitrary arrests and trials against critics and bloggers? How does Vietnam justify the disgraceful prison conditions of its detained citizens?
The Swiss-Vietnam Committee urges Switzerland, through its embassy and in collaboration with the other states involved in the “like-minded” group in Hanoi to be present and follow the April 5 trial, which according to the authorities, will be a public hearing. Switzerland could scrutinise whether the right to due process is respected, which, according to our sources, is almost never the case.
Their relatives report absolutely distressing situations in the places of detention, forced labor and lack of care. The health of many prisoners, including bloggers Nguyen Van Dai and Me Nam (“Mother Mushroom”), is deteriorating alarmingly. Isolation also erodes their mental health: they are regularly and voluntarily placed in prisons located thousands of kilometers away from their families.
Through such acts, Vietnam violates Articles 5, 9, 18, 19 and 20 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and systematically violates the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which it has acceded, as well as the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment to which they are a signatory to.
We urge the Federal Council to directly address the human rights issues and call Vietnam to:
- Ensure prison conditions are in accordance with the “Set of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment” adopted by the UN General Assembly in its resolution 43/173 of December 9, 1988;
- Abandon the systematic use of national security laws and the provisions of the Penal Code to suppress peaceful dissent and criminalize freedom of expression ;
- Stop intimidation and ill-treatment on human rights defenders, so as the aggression suffered by Pastor Nguyen Trung Ton on February 27, 2017;
- Respect the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Vietnam is a signatory to, and the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment which it ratified in 2015.
Thank you for your attention.
Rolin Wavre, President
Jean-Marc Comte, Vice-President
Luy Nguyen Tang, Secretary General
Khai Nguyen Dang, Permanent Member