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UN Human Rights Office concerned by arrests of three activists in Vietnam

BANGKOK (22 November 2016) – The UN Human Rights Office for South-East Asia expressed serious concern on Monday about the arrests of three Vietnamese human rights activists in Ho Chi Minh City over the past three weeks, and called for their immediate release from detention.

The UN Human Rights Office said it was also deeply concerned by reports that the activists, who have been held incommunicado in line with Vietnamese law for so-called National Security offences, have been subjected to torture.

Mr. Ho Van Hai, a prominent blogger, was arrested on 3 November for allegedly distributing “propaganda against the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam”. He has been officially charged under article 88 of the Penal Code
which carries a sentence of between three and 20 years of imprisonment.

On 6 November, Mr. Luu Van Vinh and Mr. Nguyen Van Duc Do, who have recently established the “Coalition of Self-determined Vietnamese Peoples”, an organisation aimed at promoting multi-party democracy and human rights, were arrested.

On 17 November, they were charged under article 79 of the Penal Code for conducting “activities aimed at overthrowing the people’s administration”. The charge carries a sentence of between 12 years and life imprisonment or capital punishment.

“These two penal provisions, along with other similar articles dealing with so-called National Security offences, run contrary to international human rights standards and should be repealed,” said Laurent Meillan, the acting regional representative of the UN Human Rights Office for South-East Asia. “Vietnam should conduct a thorough and impartial investigation into allegations of torture”.

The Regional Office further called for the unconditional release of the three human rights defenders.