Saturday, November 19, 2011

Statement by Jean-François Julliard, secretary-general of Reporters Without Borders, on the occasion of the presentation by the Committee for the Rele

More than two years after his conviction, we wish to reaffirm our support for Nguyen Tien Trung and his family on the occasion of International Solidarity Week. We are pursuing our efforts to obtain his release and we continue to defend the right to freedom of information in Vietnam.

On 2 September, Vietnam’s national day, we sent a letter to Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung. At that time, the government had announced an amnesty for more than 10,000 detainees. We requested that all prisoners of conscience also be released and drew the prime minister’s attention to the fate of the three journalists and 17 bloggers, including Nguyen Tien Trung, who were still in prison. To date, there has been no reply to the letter.

Human rights and freedom of expression have deteriorated in the country in recent years and arrests go on. Today, Vietnam is the country with the second highest number of netizens in prison, after China. Most have been charged with subversion or trying to overthrown the people’s government under article 88 of the criminal code.

However, in several of its provisions the Vietnamese constitution guarantees human rights and freedom of expression. Article 43, for example, gives citizens the right to take part in public and social affairs and discuss local and national problems, to send petitions or make recommendations to the organs of state, and to participate in referendums organised by the government .

What, then, justifies Nguyen Tien Trung’s detention for addressing the government on the country’s education policy and expressing pro-democratic views?

Article 69 guarantees freedom of expression and of the press. Citizens have the right to be informed, as well as to hold meetings, form associations and take part in demonstrations within the law. Why has he been criticized for affiliation to the Democratic Party of Vietnam?

Finally, article 71 protects citizens’ physical integrity, private life, health, honour and dignity. No one can be arrested without a warrant issued by the People’s Court or ratified by the People’s Inspectorate, except in cases where someone is caught breaking the law red-handed. Nguyen Tien Trung merely expressed his desire to see these principles applied and respected. Yet he has been accused of “anti-state propaganda”.

Just after the 66th anniversary of Vietnam’s independence in September this year, we welcomed the release of 10,000 detainees. Today we urgently call on the Vietnamese authorities to extend the amnesty to Nguyen Tien Trung and all political prisoners.

Jean-François Julliard Secretary-General, Reporters Without Borders

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