UN Human Rights Asia Condemns Vietnam’s Arrest of Female Activist Tran Thi Nga

Ms. Tran Thi Nga and her kids

by Defend the Defenders, January 24, 2017

The Southeast Asia Regional Office of the UN Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner has released a statement criticizing Vietnam’s government over the recent arrest of female activist Tran Thuy Nga.

In its statement posted on its Facebook account( www.facebook.com/UNHumanRightsAsia), the UN’s body expresses its concern about the detention of human rights activist from the northern province of Ha Nam, who is charged under Article 88 of the Penal Code for allegedly “conducting propaganda against the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.”

The statement was released three days after the arrest of Ms. Nga, known for defending the rights of Vietnamese migrant workers and peoples whose lands were seized by authorities.

The UN organization said according to the Vietnamese law, Article 88 is considered a “national security offence” and carries a sentence of between three and 20 years of imprisonment. It also allows the incommunicado detention of Ms. Nga during the whole period of the investigation, which is considered to be in itself conducive to torture and may amount to torture itself, in violation of the Convention against Torture (CAT), which Vietnam ratified in February 2015.

Over the past year, the UN Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner has expressed its concern about a number of similar cases involving human rights defenders in Vietnam. Last year, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein urged the Vietnamese government to repeal Article 88, as well as other provisions that breach international human rights standards such as Articles 79, 87, 245 and 258 of the Penal Code.

The UN Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner is the second international organization voicing about Ms. Nga’s arrest. On January 23, the Dublin-based Front Line Defenders also condemned the detentions of Ms. Nga and former political prisoner Nguyen Van Oai and urged Vietnam to unconditionally and immediately free them and stop targeting all human rights defenders in Vietnam and guarantee in all circumstances that they are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment.