Jailed Activists Nguyen Van Hoa, Nguyen Viet Dung Say They Are Tortured for Coerced Confession

Mr. Nguyen Viet Dung at the trial on April 12, 2018

Defend the Defenders, August 21, 2018


Imprisoned activists Nguyen Van Hoa and Nguyen Viet Dung have said that they had been tortured by investigation officers who want them to make false confession against pro-democracy activist Le Dinh Luong, Hanoi-based lawyer Ha Huy Son told Defenders.

Young blogger Nguyen Van Hoa in his trial on November 27, 2017

Attorney Son, one of two lawyers defending Mr. Luong in his trial on August 16, said that during the first-instance hearing of Mr. Luong, the judge recalled Hoa and Dung as witnesses of the case.

Dung and Hoa were taken to the court separately but both claimed that they were tortured by police officers andforced to testify against against Luong.

Particularly, they were forced to falsely make confession saying Dung and Luong were present at a meeting in Vinh City in which Hoa officially became a member of the Vietnam Reform Party (Viet Tan), a US-based group considered as “terrorist group” by the Vietnamese communist regime.

According to the false confession made in written form, Luong was at the meeting as a member of the group while Dung was a honored guest.

Based on their false confession, the People’s Court of Nghe An convicted pro-democracy campaigner and environmentalist Luong on allegation of “conducting activities aiming to overthrow government” under Article 79 of the country’s 1999 Penal Code. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison and five years under house arrest afterward, the longest sentence given to an activist so far.

Lawyer Son said Dung and Hoa were taken right away after retracting their earlier testimony in court. When Son and Dang Dinh Manh, the second lawyer of Luong, asked to meet with the two witnesses for additional questions, police denied, saying they were ill and not fit for cross-examination.

Five days after Mr. Luong’s trial, Dung’s father went to Nghi Kim temporary detention facility where Dung is held to conduct a visit but the facility’s authorities said Dung is not permitted to meet with his relatives because he failed to show his cooperation with authorities in Luong’s trial.

In response to the news on Hoa’s torture, the Committee to Protect Journalists issued a statement condemning the abuse of the imprisoned videographer and calling on Vietnamese authorities to stop beating and harassing jailed journalists.

Dung was arrested in late September last year and charged with “conducting anti-state propaganda” under Article 88 of the 1999 Penal Code. In April, the People’s Court of Nghe An convicted him and sentenced him to seven years in prison and five years under house arrest. On August 15, the Higher People’s Court in Hanoi reduced his jail sentence to six years.

Hoa was detained in January 2017 and later sentenced to seven years in prison, also on allegation of “conducting anti-state propaganda.” He was sent to serve his sentence in An Diem prison camp in the central province of Quang Nam.

Torture is systemic in Vietnam although the communist regime ratified the UN Convention against Torture andOther Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT) in 2013.

Hundreds of activists and peaceful demonstrators as well as ordinary people were brutally beaten by police officers and plainclothes agents during the mass protest in mid-June at the scene and in custody.

Many criminal suspects were beaten to death in police stations nationwide in the past few years, according to state media.