Trial against Eight Members of Hiến Pháp Group Re-scheduled on January 14: Lawyers

Detained activists Ngo Van Dung and Xuan Hong

Defend the Defenders, December 19, 2019


Vietnam’s communist regime has re-scheduled its plan to try eight members of the unregistered group Hiến Pháp (Constitution) on the allegation “disruption of security” under Article 118 of the country’s Criminal Code” for their intention to participate in a peaceful demonstration in early September last year, Defend the Defenders has learned.

The People’s Court of Ho Chi Minh City will hold the first-instance hearing which may take several days from January 14 in its headquarters in the country’s biggest economic hub, said lawyers Dang Dinh Manh and Nguyen Van Mieng, who were hired by their families to provide legal counseling for some of the activists of the group.

According to their families, the People’s Procuracy of HCM City has released the indictments against them, in which it has proposed the People’s Court to try Ms. Nguyen Thi Ngoc Hanh and Mrs. Hoang Thi Thu Vang on accusation of Clause 1 with imprisonment of between five and 15 years in prison while Mr. Do The Hoa, Mr. Ho Dinh Cuong, Mr. Tran Thanh Phuong, Mr. Ngo Van Dung, Mr. Le Quy Loc and Ms. Doan Thi Hong are subjected to the allegation under Clause 2 with imprisonment of between two and seven years if are convicted.

All of them were kidnapped by HCM City’s police on September 2-4, 2018 and held incommunicado for months. Their families had not been informed about their detentions and charges for months after they went to different state agencies and police stations to ask for their status and found out that they were kept by the city’s police.

It was concerned that single-mother Hong was detained when her daughter was only 29-month-old while the Vietnamese law states that a mother should not be separated from their child under three years of age.

Hiến Pháp (Constitution) is a group of activists working to educate the public about the human rights they are entitled to under Vietnam’s 2013 Constitution by disseminating the country’s 2013 Constitution among citizens. Its members were active during the mass demonstration in HCM City on June 10, 2018 in which tens of thousands of Vietnamese rallied on streets to protest the communist regime’s plan to approve two bills on Special Economic Zones and Cybersecurity.

In order to prevent similar protests in early September 2018, Vietnam’s security forces launched a big campaign to persecute local dissent and all members of the Hiến Pháp group became their targets. Two other members of the group named Huynh Truong Ca and Le Minh The were arrested and convicted of “conducting anti-state propaganda” and “abusing democratic freedom,” respectively while three others were forced to relocate in Thailand to avoid being arrested.

Defend the Defenders considers eight jailed members of the group as prisoners of conscience and the accusations against them are groundless.