Investigation against HRDs Nguyen Thi Tam and Trinh Ba Phuong Ends, Trial Expected Soon

Four HRDs from Duong Noi (from left): Trinh Ba Tu, Can Thi Theu, Trinh Ba Phuong, and Nguyen Thi Tam (RFA)

Defend the Defenders, June 20, 2021


The Security Investigation Agency of the Hanoi Police Department has completed the investigation against local human rights defenders Mrs. Nguyen Thi Tam and Mr. Trinh Ba Phuong on the allegation of “conducting anti-state propaganda” under Article 117 of the Criminal Code.

According to their lawyers, the agency has transferred the investigation results to the city’s People’s Procuracy with a proposal to prosecute them under Clause 2 of the article, with potential imprisonment of between ten and 20 years.

On June 20, their lawyers received approval from the city’s police to meet with them in police custody for the first time since their arrests on June 24 last year for defense preparation. So far, they have been kept incommunicado, not allowed to meet with their family’s members nor attorneys.

It is expected their trial(s) will be carried out soon, and given the hard sentences in recent political hearings, Mrs. Tam and Mr. Phuong may be convicted with lengthy imprisonment.

Mr. Phuong, 36, is the biggest son of prisoner of conscience and human rights advocate Can Thi Theu, who together with her second son Trinh Ba Tu was arrested on the same day with the same charge due to their human rights advocacy. On May 5, the People’s Court of Hanoi convicted the 59-year-old mother and the 32-year-old son and sentenced them both to eight years in prison and three years of probation.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Tam started her social affairs objecting land grabbing by Hanoi’s authorities and she was once imprisoned for “causing public disorders.” She often voices against injustice and suppression in the country.

The arrests of Mrs. Tam and Mr. Phuong as well as the detentions of Mrs. Theu and Mr. Tu came due to their advocacy for land petitioners in Dong Tam commune and the extrajudicial killing of the communal leader Le Dinh Kinh and the arrests of about 30 villagers during the bloody raid of around 3,000 riot policemen in the commune on January 9 last year.

In March 2021, the UN Working Group of Arbitrary Detention issued a letter which says the arrests of the four human rights defenders Mrs. Tam, Mrs. Theu and her two sons Phuong and Tu as well as the detention of prominent human rights advocate and well-known political blogger Pham Doan Trang are arbitrary. The agency also calls on Vietnam’s authorities to free them immediately and unconditionally.

Defend the Defenders and many international human rights group have also condemned the arrests of the four human rights defenders and requested for their freedom.