WGAD Says Arrest of Independent Journalist Le Huu Minh Tuan Arbitrary, Calling on Vietnam to Free Him

Three members of IJAVN (from left): Mr. Le Huu Minh Tuan, Mr. Nguyen Tuong Thuy, and Dr. Pham Chi Dung


Defend the Defenders, June 18, 2021


The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) has issued a letter saying the arrest and the prosecution of Vietnamese independent journalist Le Huu Minh Tuan arbitrary and calling on Vietnam’s authorities to release him immediately and unconditionally.

Mr. Tuan, an editor of the unregistered professional group Independent Journalists Association of Vietnam (IJAVN) was arrested on June 12, 2020 and charged with “conducting anti-state propaganda” under Article 117 of Vietnam’s Criminal Code. In early January this year, he was convicted and sentenced to 11 years in prison and three years of probation in the same case of IJAVN’s President Pham Chi Dung and his deputy Nguyen Tuong Thuy, who were sentenced to 15 years and 11 years in prison, respectively.

In the Opinion No. 11/2021 concerning Le Huu Minh Tuanadopted by the WGAD at its 90th session on May 3-12, 2021, the WGAD noted that Mr. Tuan’s case is one of many cases brought before the group in recent years concerning arbitrary detention in Vietnam.  These cases follow a familiar pattern of arrest that does not comply with international norms, which is manifested in the circumstances of the arrest, lengthy detention pending trial with no access to judicial review, denial or limiting of access to legal counsel, incommunicado detention, prosecution under vaguely worded criminal offences for the peaceful exercise of human rights, and denial of access to the outside world. This pattern indicates a systemic problem with arbitrary detention in Vietnam which, if it continues, may amount to a serious violation of international law.

The WGAD finds that Mr. Tuan’s arrest and prosecution go against many articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) in which Vietnam is a signatory party.

The group says Vietnam’s regime should release Mr. Tuan immediately and accord him an enforceable right to compensation and other reparations, in accordance with international law.