Dialogue and Commitment for Prisoners of Conscience in Vietnam During the COVID-19 Pandemic

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Berlin — November  20, 2021

The Federal Association of Vietnamese Refugees in the Federal Republic of Germany asked the following organizations to discuss the human rights situation in Vietnam with an official of the Foreign Ministry, and to take discuss strategies to support given the increasingly dire situation Vietnam prisoners of conscience currently face as a result of the pandemic. Organizations involved were ACAT Germany, the Brotherhood for Democracy and Viet Tan.

The two colleagues from ACAT Germany highlighted the human rights concerns surrounding the trial of residents of Dong Tam and presented cases of other detainees on death row. Evidence of inhumane conditions of detention, the widespread use of torture and examples of the unfair justice system were presented. According to a report, 19 of the 29 accused in Dong Tam were tortured to obtain confessions.

ACAT representatives requested the Federal Foreign Office to lobby the Vietnamese authorities for humane treatment of prisoners and inquired – particularly with a view to the EU guidelines on the protection of human rights defenders – about the possibilities for further prison visits and trial observations.

Vietnam is one of the countries with the highest number of executions in the world. Death row prisoners are completely isolated from the outside world. They are handcuffed at the slightest sign that are at risk of committing suicide or other dangers including breaking out. Shackles are only removed for 15 minutes a day, and the shackled foot is changed once a week. Execution dates are kept secret, so prisoners and their families live in constant fear.

Prominent human rights attorney Nguyen Van Dai from Brotherhood of Democracy identified three specific cases for which he sought public awareness and support from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. These are: Pastor Nguyen Trung Ton (12 years in prison), Mr. Chau Van Kham (12 years in prison), and Mr. Le Dinh Luong (20 years in prison). He also informed that the Vietnamese secret service was still keeping him under surveillance in Germany and indirectly exerting pressure on his human rights activities online.

Hoang Tu Duy from Viet Tan reported on the Vietnamese authorities’ on Facebook through the Cybersecurity Law, restricting freedom of expression online.

The Federal Foreign Office thanked the non-governmental organizations for all the information, their suggestions and commitment. At the same time, they encouraged advocates to advance the issue of human rights with great perseverance and vigor.

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