Vietnam: blogger sentenced for anti-state propaganda after unfair trial (Update)Event
- Viet Nam
- Initial Date
- Jul 13, 2022
- Event Description
Nguyen Duc Hung was sentenced on July 13 to five and a half years in prison for “anti-state propaganda” in an “open trial” that his family did not know about until they read about it in the newspaper. According to a well-known lawyer, Vietnamese laws only require the state to notify a defendant’s lawyer, not their family, of the trial date. It is not clear if Hung had a lawyer at trial. An activist who once participated in protests against the Formosa environmental disaster in 2016, Hung was convicted for his social media posts on a wide range of subjects: land rights, human rights, public health, and corruption.
Facebook activist Nguyen Duc Hung’s family say he was denied visitors and they only found out about his five-and-a-half-year sentence from state media the day after it was handed down.
Hung’s posts aimed to raise awareness of an environmental disaster in his hometown of Ky Anh. The Hung Nghiep Formosa Ha Tinh steel factory discharged chemical waste into the sea and environmentalists say the effects are still being felt by the residents.
His social media posts did not focus solely on the disaster in his home town. He told his 9,000-plus followers about cases of social injustice and human rights abuses. He also focused on religious freedom, posting comments about the case of Thien An Monastery in which the provincial government of Thua Thien Hue "borrowed" land from the religious facility.
Hung was convicted of “conducting anti-state propaganda” under Article 117 of the criminal code.
The indictment said Hung’s actions directly affected the implementation of the Party's guidelines and policies, the State's laws, and the strength of the people's government, divided national unity, reduced the people's trust in the Party and State, and potentially caused national insecurity and disorder.
While the court claimed it was a public criminal trial Hung’s family said they heard nothing from the police or the court.
“When they carried out the trial, my family did not know,” Hung’s father Nguyen Van Sen told RFA.
“I phoned the detention center and was told that the trial had been carried out the day before. When I asked why they didn't notify my family, the police said the family was not involved."
Sen got the same response when the called the provincial police’s investigative department.
According to a lawyer who has defended many similar trials Hung’s case is not uncommon. Ha Huy Son said the court does not have to notify the family or invite them to the trial. He said Criminal Procedure Code 2015 only stipulates telling the family the person is in custody, or has been arrested in the case of an urgent arrest. It is only necessary to tell the defense lawyer, the victim and any other parties involved at least 10 days before the trial.
Hung is the sixth Facebooker this year to be convicted of "conducting propaganda against the state." The others received sentences of between five and eight years.
Hung, 31, was arrested on Jan. 6 this year and has been held incommunicado since then. His father said, despite repeated trips to the detention center, the family was not allowed to see him.
The family did not hire a defense lawyer and Sen said he did not know if one was present at the trial. Sen did not want to comment on the sentence, other than saying he hoped it would be reduced because Hung’s wife had left him to raise their two primary school children.
State media did not mention whether Hung had a lawyer, only saying he had pleaded guilty and asked for leniency.
RFA called the People’s Court of Ha Tinh province but no-one replied.
- Impact of Event
- Gender of HRD
- (Arbitrary) Arrest and Detention
- Denial Fair Trial
- Judicial Harassment
- Rights Concerned
- Freedom of expression
- Right to fair trial
- Right to liberty and security
- Freedom of expression
- Blogger/ Social Media Activist
- Environmental rights defender
- Monitoring Status
- Event Location
- Event Location
- Summary for Publications
On 13 July 2022, Nguyen Duc Hung, detained blogger, was sentenced to 5 and a half years jail on alleged anti-state propaganda for his critical social media posts after an unfair trial by the Provincial Court of Ha Tinh, Viet Nam.