The sentencing of Mr Pham Chi Dung to 15 years in prison, and 11 years each for Mr Nguyen Tuong Thuy and Mr Le Huu Minh Tuan, is a negative development. All three are members of the Independent Journalists’ Association of Vietnam (IJAVN), a civil society organisation which promotes free speech, press freedom and freedom of association. States must protect freedom of expression and create a favourable environment for public debate even when the opinions expressed are contrary to those held by the authorities. Freedom of opinion and expression – both online and offline – are vital to ensure transparency, social justice, sustainable and inclusive development, and prosperity.
The right to freedom of expression is guaranteed by the Vietnamese Constitution, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and other international conventions, which Vietnam has signed up to, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Moreover, in the context of the Universal Periodic Review, Vietnam accepted recommendations to guarantee and lift restrictions on freedom of opinion and expression. However, the increasing number of arrests, imprisonment and sentencing of Vietnamese journalists and human rights defenders go in the opposite direction.
The European Union expects the Vietnamese authorities to immediately release Mr Dung, Mr Thuy and Mr Tuan, as well as all journalists, bloggers and human rights defenders imprisoned for having peacefully expressed their views. The European Union will continue to monitor and work with the Vietnamese authorities and all relevant stakeholders to improve the human rights situation in Vietnam.
Source: Delegation of the European Union to Swaziland