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Vietnam rights defenders have sentences upheld

5 Jun 2018

Four human rights defenders in Vietnam had their heavy sentences upheld in an appeal trial on 4 June.

Four human rights defenders in Vietnam, including pastor and activist Nguyen Trung Ton, have had their sentences upheld in an appeal trial on 4 June.

The four activists were among six individuals sentenced to between seven and 15 years in prison on 5 April 2018 for ‘carrying out activities aimed at overthrowing the government’ under Article 79 of the Vietnamese penal code. After 5 April, statements of concern were issued by organisations in Vietnam and worldwide, as well as the European Union External Action Service, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and a US State Department Spokesperson.

Nguyen Trung Ton, whose 12-year prison sentence was upheld today, is a pastor and activist who has advocated for the right to freedom of religion or belief and has spoken out against social injustices in Vietnam. Pastor Ton has been imprisoned before. He was sentenced to two years in prison in 2011, on charges of ‘anti-state propaganda’ under Article 88 of the penal code.

In his closing defence statement, Pastor Ton said that “if the law has love for the people, then our country might have a future”. 

Nguyen Bac Truyen, a Hoa Hao Buddhist and legal expert who has provided pro bono legal assistance to families of political prisoners, victims of land grabs, and persecuted religious communities, also had his 11-year sentence upheld on 4 June.

CSW’s Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said, “The results of the appeal trials today indicate a worrying disregard for the work of human rights defenders in Vietnam. We restate our call on the Vietnamese government to release immediately, and unconditionally, these six human rights defenders, as well as all those detained for their peaceful defence of human rights, in line with Vietnam’s obligations as a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.”

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