Human Rights Commissioner Bärbel Kofler on the sentencing of Vietnamese human rights activist Tran Thi Nga to nine years’ imprisonment

27.07.2017 - Press release

Bärbel Kofler, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid, issued the following statement today (26 July) on the sentence handed down to Vietnamese human rights activist Tran Thi Nga:

“I was shocked by the very harsh sentence of nine years’ imprisonment handed down to Ms Tran Thi Nga by a court in Viet Nam. Tran Thi Nga used peaceful means to combat corruption and arbitrary actions and assist victims of the justice system, promote employment rights and environmental protection. Amnesty International paid tribute to her work on International Women’s Day this year.

Just like in the case of Mother Mushroom, a well-known Vietnamese blogger who was sentenced to ten years’ imprisonment less than a month ago due to her work to promote human rights, this sentence contradicts the human rights principles recognised by Viet Nam and violates the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Viet Nam has acceded. The Vietnamese Constitution also protects freedom of opinion and the press.

The disproportionately harsh conviction runs counter to the reforms to promote the rule of law undertaken by the Vietnamese Government. Furthermore, with this step, Viet Nam is carelessly putting its reputation as a state open to reform and modernisation at risk.

My thoughts are with Ms Tran’s family for whom this sentence is highly distressing.”

Background information:

Human rights activist Tran Thi Nga, born in Ha Nam province in northern Viet Nam on 28 April 1977, has four children (her two youngest children are only four and seven years old).
Due to her work, Ms Tran has on several occasions been targeted by the security forces. She was arrested back in January 2017 (about three months after the arrest of the well-known blogger and activist Mother Mushroom). In a trial originally scheduled to last two days, she was sentenced to nine years’ imprisonment and five years’ house arrest for “conducting anti-state propaganda” on 25 July. Ms Tran’s husband and relatives were not allowed to attend the trial.

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