The United Nations human rights chief has expressed concern about a growing crackdown by the Government of Viet Nam on human rights defenders.
This includes the arrest last week of popular blogger and Government critic Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, known online as Mother Mushroom.
Ms. Quynh was arrested last Monday in the central province of Khanh Hoa under Article 88 of the Penal Code, which prohibits “conducting propaganda against the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam.”
“Article 88 effectively makes it a crime for any Vietnamese citizen to enjoy the fundamental freedom to express an opinion, to discuss or to question the Government and its policies,” said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein in a news release.
“The overly broad, ill-defined scope of this law makes it all too easy to quash any kind of dissenting views and to arbitrarily detain individuals who dare to criticize Government policies.”
The crime is deemed a national security offence and carries a sentence of up to 20 years in jail. Under the Vietnamese criminal procedural code dealing with the investigation of so-called national security offences, Ms. Quynh can be detained incommunicado for at least four months.
Mr. Zeid said incommunicado detention for such an extended period of time – particularly without access to family members and to legal counsel – is conducive to torture and may amount to torture itself, in violation of the Convention against Torture, which Viet Nam ratified in February 2015.
“I urge the Government of Viet Nam to abide by its obligations under human rights law, to drop these charges against Ms. Quynh and to release her immediately,” the High Commissioner added.
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