Family of Environmentalist Hoang Duc Binh May Be Permitted to Attend His Appreal Hearing

Environmentalist and labor activist Hoang Duc Binh (right) at trial on Feb 6, 2018

Defend the Defenders, April 23, 2018

Five members of the family of environmentalist and labor activist Hoang Duc Binh may be allowed to enter a courtroom to observe his appeal hearing set on April 24, his brother Hoang Nguyen informed Defend the Defenders.

One day prior to the appeal hearing which will be carried out by the People’s Court in Nghe An province, a local security officer came and announced the permit, Mr. Nguyen said.

The appeal hearing will be open for public at the headquarters of the province’s People’s Court in the center of Vinh city.

Binh, 35, was arrested on May 15 last year and later charged with “resisting persons in the performance of their official duties” under Article 330 and “Abusing democratic freedoms to infringe upon the interests of the State, the legitimate rights and interests of organizations and/or citizens” under Article 331 of the country’s 2015 Penal Code.

On February 6 this year, the People’s Court of Dien Chau district found him guilty and sentenced him to 14 years in prison. His conviction with lengthy imprisonment aims to silence environmentalists and human rights defenders amid rising public concerns about increasing environmental pullution, especially the disaster caused by the discharge of a huge amount of toxic industrial waste by the Taiwan-invested Formosa steel plant located in the neighboring province of Ha Tinh into central coast.

On that day, Binh’s family was orally permitted to attend the open trial, however, only his parents were allowed to enter the courtroom while his brothers and other relatives were detained to police stations where they were brutally beaten by undercovered policemen. Police also robbed their cell phones and released them on late afternoon after the trial ended.

Nguyen said Binh’s lawyer was permitted to meet with him in the Nghi Kim temporary detention facility under the authority of Nghe An province’s police yesterday to prepare for his defense. The activist has yet to be allowed to meet with his family since being arrested in May last year. His family is allowed to supply food worth below VND50,000 ($2.2) three times a month.

It is a low chance of Binh to get lighter sentence given the fact that dozens of activists have been convicted and sentenced to severe imprisonment in recent months.