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Human Rights Commissioner Kofler on the sentencing of three journalists to lengthy jail terms

05.01.2021 - Press release

The Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Assistance at the Federal Foreign Office, Bärbel Kofler, issued the following statement today (5 January) on the sentencing of the Vietnamese journalists Pham Chi Dung, Nguyen Tuong Thuy and Le Huu Minh Tuan:

Once again, lengthy jail terms have been handed down to activists in Viet Nam who have peacefully campaigned for freedom of expression, the freedom of the press and the founding of free and independent unions. The Vietnamese government thus remains intent on suppressing civil society as well as freedom of opinion and the freedom to demonstrate.
With these convictions, Viet Nam is breaching international conventions which it has undertaken to uphold. The Vietnamese Constitution also guarantees freedom of opinion and the freedom of the press. There is no justification for convicting citizens who have peacefully campaigned for change.
I call upon the Vietnamese government to refrain from detaining citizens for exercising their rights, to release political prisoners, to involve civil society and its legitimate demands in the political decision-making process, and to respect the human rights of all Vietnamese people!

Background information:

On 5 January 2021, long prison sentences were handed down to the journalists Pham Chi Dung, Nguyen Tuong Thuy and Le Huu Minh Tuan for “propaganda against the state”: 15 years for Mr Dung and 11 years for each of the others, to be served as suspended sentences with three years of probation.
As the head of the Independent Journalists’ Association of Vietnam (IJAVN), which he also helped found, Mr Dung has long been an advocate for democracy and human rights. Until his arrest in November 2019, he wrote up to three articles a day for various domestic and foreign media outlets (including Voice of America, Radio Free Asia, the BBC and RFI). In 2014, Reporters Without Borders chose Mr Dung as one of a hundred “information heroes”.
Nguyen Tuong Thuy is the acting head of IJAVN as well as an editor at Radio Free Asia (RFA). He used his articles to denounce corruption and other abuses of power.
Le Huu Minh Tuan also works with RFA as an independent journalist covering social injustice, domestic policy and the democratic movement in Viet Nam.

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