Tuesday was a nasty day for democracy in Vietnam, as two outstanding activists misplaced appeals towards their jail sentences.
The provincial Individuals’s Courtroom within the Central Highland province of Dak Lak, rejected the attraction of Y Wo Nie whereas the Increased Individuals’s Courtroom in Hanoi dismissed the attraction of Le Van Dung.
Nie is a Protestant from the Ede ethnic minority. He was sentenced to 4 years by Cu Kuin district court docket on Could 20 this yr. He was charged with “abusing democratic freedom,” for reporting spiritual persecution in his area to worldwide teams.
His conviction was primarily based on an indictment claiming he took footage of three handwritten human rights reviews and despatched them to a number of worldwide organizations and in addition met with representatives of the US diplomatic mission in Vietnam.
Lawyer Nguyen Van Mieng advised RFA his shopper had modified his attraction to protest his innocence.
“He modified his attraction from asking for diminished imprisonment to whole freedom, saying that he was not responsible and didn’t violate Article 331 of the Felony Code,” Mieng stated.
The trial befell with no judicial professional, witnesses or kinfolk. Solely the defendant, lawyer and an Ede-Vietnamese interpreter.”
The lawyer stated Nie’s spouse and kinfolk weren’t allowed to enter the courtroom, so that they, and greater than 100 different Ede folks, stood within the courtyard.
Mieng requested the appeals court docket to summon two examiners from the Division of Data and Communications of Dak Lak province and a diplomat from the U.S. Consulate Basic in Ho Chi Minh Metropolis however his request was denied by the court docket.
The appeals panel didn’t point out some extent within the authentic indictment saying that Nie met representatives of the U.S. Embassy and Consulate Basic in Gia Lai province’s Pleiku metropolis in June 2020.
Pastor Nguyen Hong Quang, a former prisoner of conscience from Ho Chi Minh Metropolis, stated the sentence was predetermined.
“When the accused complains, the court docket ought to take into account letting the lawyer current the explanations for the criticism. The independence of the court docket should be primarily based on the argument in court docket between the lawyer and the prosecutor and it is extremely unlucky that the proof was not utilized on this listening to and the ultimate court docket judgment,” Quang stated.
“Vietnam’s justice system has not been efficient in reforming and remains to be focusing on dissidents. These with other ways of pondering might be severely punished, particularly relating to … the habits of public authorities in the direction of the Protestant neighborhood within the Central Highlands.”
Mieng additionally stated the evaluation of the Division of Data and Communications didn’t comply with laws and resembled the assertion by the State Division spokesman, coming to the identical conclusions as the unique indictment.
The indictment of the Individuals’s Procuratorate of Dak Lak province states that Nie personally wrote three human rights reviews, took footage and despatched them by way of WhatsApp to “reactionary topics overseas.”
Mieng stated the paperwork included a replica of “The Violation of Spiritual Freedom” and the content material of the report was despatched to the UN Fee on Human Rights and the U.S. Fee on Worldwide Spiritual Freedom.
The opposite two reviews have been on “The Scenario of Faith and Human Rights of the Ede ethnic folks within the Central Highlands,” and on “The Scenario of Spiritual Freedom in Basic and in Explicit for the Ethnic Individuals within the Central Highlands.”
Nie was arrested in September 2021 for actions judged to “have an effect on the political safety scenario, social order and security and the traditional operation of State administrative businesses, cut back the general public’s confidence within the regime and have an effect on the picture of the State of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam in addition to the status of the Communist Get together of Vietnam in worldwide diplomatic relations.”
That is Nie’s second time in jail. He was sentenced to 9 years for “undermining the unity coverage,” a provision typically used to imprison spiritual activists amongst many Montagnard ethnic minority teams within the Central Highlands.
A latest report on spiritual freedom from the U.S. Fee on Worldwide Spiritual Freedom (USCIRF) additionally criticized the Vietnamese authorities’s crackdown on the mountain dwelling spiritual teams of the Central Highlands.
In response to Vietnamese NGO Defend the Defenders, there are at the moment greater than 60 spiritual freedom activists imprisoned with lengthy sentences below the cost of “undermining the unity coverage.” Most of them are Protestants from many ethnic minorities within the Central Highlands.
Le Van Dung’s attraction lasts for much less that two hours
Additionally on Tuesday the Increased Individuals’s Courtroom in Hanoi carried out the attraction listening to of 52-year-old Le Van Dung. He was arrested in June final yr and in March this yr he was convicted of “conducting anti-state propaganda” and sentenced to 5 years in jail and 5 years of probation.
Dung’s attraction solely lasted one hour and 45 minutes earlier than the court docket upheld his sentence.
Lawyer Dang Dinh Manh, who defended Dung at his attraction, stated the listening to was too shallow.
“The court docket requested questions very briefly, didn’t go into depth or give time for debate. The court docket additionally reduce off the arguments of the lawyer,” Manh stated.
“Having beforehand labored with us we all know that Dung didn’t anticipate the attraction listening to would change the end result. So when he went to court docket his angle was very relaxed, very calm and he was virtually smiling all through the listening to.”
In response to the lawyer, the Procurator had an angle of not eager to argue and solely answered legal professionals’ questions vaguely.
“The legal professionals really raised a whole lot of points,” Manh stated. “I raised 4 points, however he solely argued with me over one problem with just one very quick sentence.”
“For instance, after we argued concerning the problem of judicial experience, the Procurator stated that the assessors are granted the assessor’s license by the state, so that they have the precise and full authority over the matter of experience and [they consider] their experience as such is lawful. They didn’t argue towards many points we raised.”
In instances of “conducting anti-state propaganda” below Article 88 of the 1999 Penal Code or below Article 117 of the 2015 Felony Code, the defendants’ statements on social networks are normally assessed by state businesses.
The aim of the examination is to seek out content material that’s alleged to violate the above legal guidelines.
Additionally in line with Dung’s protection, the legal professionals couldn’t argue additional with the Procuracy as a result of the presiding decide interrupted, saying “there isn’t any additional consensus on something.”
Manh stated Dung nonetheless insisted he didn’t break the legislation, however solely exercised his proper to freedom of expression as prescribed by the Structure.
“Nobody is shocked with the results of the listening to,” Manh stated. “All of us perceive the best way the Vietnamese court docket works, so we do not anticipate a giant change, not even a small change. Typically, we disagree with the accusations towards Dung in each hearings.”
The lawyer stated Dung mustn’t have been arrested and prosecuted only for voicing his opinions for the reason that proper to freedom of expression is enshrined within the Structure. He stated the Vietnamese authorities additionally has a accountability to respect this proper, having signed the Worldwide Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
The hearings drew criticism from worldwide human rights organizations.
Human Rights Watch known as for the court docket to launch Le Van Dung, and accused the Vietnamese authorities of suppressing human rights.
“The politically motivated, completely bogus conviction of Le Van Dung needs to be quashed and he needs to be instantly launched, “stated Asia Regional Vice President Phil Robertson.
“Utilizing the Web to talk out about injustice and demand reforms shouldn’t be thought-about a criminal offense. By prosecuting him, Vietnam exhibits what a dictatorial, rights-abusing state it has turn into. Le Van Dung’s five-year jail verdict in March exemplifies the best way officers retaliate towards outspoken residents for merely talking their minds.”
Amnesty Worldwide Deputy Regional Director Ming Yu Hah additionally criticized the attraction.
“This attraction listening to as soon as once more exhibits the failure of the Vietnamese authorities to meet its human rights obligations,” she stated.
“Le Van Dung is an impartial journalist and has fought for the liberty of expression of deprived teams in society, in addition to for social transparency. His efforts needs to be applauded, not jailed for talking his thoughts.”
“The Vietnamese authorities ought to instantly launch Le Van Dung and lots of different human rights activists, reminiscent of Pham Doan Trang, Can Thi Theu, Trinh Ba Phuong, Trinh Ba Tu, and Nguyen Thi Tam.”
“Dung is understood for his reside broadcasts on Fb below the title CHTV, by which this journalist makes a speciality of serving to farmers whose land has been expropriated to ‘declare their grievances’ and on the similar time present feedback on the socio-political scenario in Vietnam.”
Two different outstanding activists hear the outcomes of their appeals on Wednesday. Trinh Ba Phuong, 37, and Nguyen Thi Tam, 50, have been each arrested on June 24, 2020 and charged with “conducting anti-state propaganda.”
In December the Hanoi Individuals’s Courtroom sentenced Phuong to 10 years in jail and 5 years’ probation. Tam was sentenced to 6 years in jail and three years’ probation.