Vietnam Sentences Three Journalists To 37 Years
Independent lawyers say that the reporters did not violate Vietnamese law.
Rights groups harshly criticised the three journalists’ conviction and sentencing on Tuesday, who until the trial were held incommunicado for months and were denied the right to talk to their lawyer.
They have no place being in prison, Ms. Emerlynne Gill, deputy regional director for Amnesty International said.
These sentences are clearly designed to extinguish any form of civil society debate, commented head of the Asia-Pacific desk for Paris-based Reporters Without Borders Mr. Daniel Bastard.
Communist Vietnam's court sentenced independent journalists Mr. Nguyen Tuong Thuy and Mr. Le Huu Minh Tuan to 11 years in prison, and Mr. Pham Chi Dung to a 15-year confinement during the trial in Saigon.
Mr. Thuy is a dissident who has been known beyond Vietnam. In 2014 he testified about the persecution of the media in his country before the US House of Representatives. He is also a former vice president of the Vietnam Independent Journalism Association.
Vietnam's Communist Party targeted the Independent Journalists Association established by three reporters with a campaign of threats and intimidation.
For the judge, the battle for human rights and reporting the truth were crimes endangering the Communist regime. Making, storing, and disseminating documents and materials for anti-state purposes, he quoted from the affidavit while the defendants stood in front of him flanked by the police officers.
The journalists argued they had established the Independent Journalists Association to promote freedom of expression, democracy, and human rights only in accordance with permitted regulations. But there was not even a small sign that the court wanted to investigate this case, the lawyers stated.
This case shows that the right to freedom of the press is being denied, the defence attorney Mr. Nguyen Van Mieng stated. The court did not prosecute these three men for establishing the Independent Journalists Association of Vietnam. Instead, they were prosecuted because of the stories and articles they wrote, he added.
According to the independent lawyers the journalists did not violate the Communist regime's law.
The trials held in cases like this in Vietnam are often called ‘pocket judgments,’ and the sentences are often too harsh, wife of one of the defendents Nguyen Tuong Thuy Ms. Pham Thi Lan told Radio Liberty. She referred to the cases in which judges are told the sentence ahead by Communist party officials.
In fact, the defendants’ actions had not violated the Constitution, since Article 25 protects freedom of expression, she emphasised.
Indeed, the Vietnamese Communist court paid no attention to justice.
The real nature of every Communist regime, including in Vietnam, is a need for total control of all citizens. Because the political system is legalised lawlessness, such a system cannot reform itself from within, but it must be demolished from the outside by the revolt.