Sunday, June 21, 2009

Vietnam: Release Leading Human Rights Lawyer Le Cong Dinh Immediately and Unconditionally


Le Cong Dinh, a prominent lawyer, writer, blogger, and human rights
defender in Vietnam, has represented other writers and right advocates in
Vietnamese courts over the past years, courageously taking on cases despite
a repressive media environment in the country. Now he needs your help.

Dinh was arrested on 13 June in his home in Ho Chi Minh and faces up to 20
years in jail on charges of distributing anti-state propaganda, sedition
and conspiring with subversives. Join the Southeast Asian Press Alliance
(SEAPA), International PEN's Writers in Prison Committee (WiPC), Human
Rights Watch, Reporters Without Borders, ARTICLE 19 and Index on Censorship
to demand his immediate release.

The Investigation Agency at the Ministry of Public Security announced that
Dinh was arrested because he had reported distorted facts to foreign news
agencies and allegedly libelled Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung.

Dinh is well known for defending human rights lawyers Nguyen Van Dai and Le
Thi Cong Nhan when they appealed their prison sentences for spreading
anti-government propaganda in 1997.

He also defended in court the famous blogger Dieu Cay for his right to free

His writings about the legal system in Vietnam and the need for independent
media have been well received and broadcasted widely on various websites
inside and abroad, as well as international media, such as the BBC and
Radio Free Asia.

SEAPA believes the charges are flimsy and are meant to silence critical
voices in Vietnam. "Dinh's arrest simultaneously sends a chilling message
to both writers and advocates on the one hand, and to lawyers who, fully
working within the system and respecting Vietnam's laws, represent them on
the other."

The Swedish Bar Association has sent out a letter of protest to the
Vietnamese authorities about Dinh's arbitrary arrest. Now you can too.

The IFEX members are asking that you write or fax a letter of protest to
the Vietnamese embassy in your country. SEAPA has drafted a letter that you
are free to use and send on. You can access it on the SEAPA website:

For a partial list of Vietnamese embassy addresses, see

You can also sign the online petition for Dinh:

Related stories on
- Media advocate arrested for "spreading propaganda against government":

Article19 adds

Vietnam: Release Leading Human Rights Lawyer Le Cong Dinh Immediately and Unconditionally

Leading Vietnamese human rights lawyer Le Cong Dinh was detained by police on 13 June 2009 and has been held since then on charges of breaching Article 88 of the Penal Code of Vietnam for “distributing propaganda against Vietnam”. If convicted, Dinh faces up to twenty years in prison. ARTICLE 19 and Index on Censorship call on the Vietnamese authorities to free Dinh immediately and unconditionally, and to repeal Article 88 in full.

Dinh is a respected Vietnamese lawyer and human rights defender who has, in the past, defended Vietnamese pro-democracy activists, bloggers and labour rights activists. He has also been an outspoken proponent of political pluralism and other causes which the Vietnamese government disapproves of.

Article 88 of the Penal Code makes it an offence, among other things, to defame the Vietnamese administration, to spread fabricated news to foment confusion among the people, and to circulate documents against the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. All of these offences fail to meet the standards set out in Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which Vietnam acceded to in September 1982, thereby undertaking to respect its provisions. In particular, none of these offences can be justified as necessary to protect national security or public order. Indeed, criticism of the authorities is central to democracy.

• For more information please contact: Toby Mendel, Senior Legal Counsel: ARTICLE 19 at or +1 902 431 3688; or Jo Glanville, Editor: Index on Censorship at or +44 (0) 20 7324 2531.
• Index on Censorship has been working to protect and promote freedom of expression since 1972 through its award-winning magazine, website and international projects. .

No comments:

Post a Comment