Jailed Vietnamese blogger and human rights lawyer Le Quoc Quan has launched a hunger strike to protest the refusal by prison authorities to provide him access to legal counsel, access to legal and religious books, and access to a priest for spiritual guidance, ahead of his appeal trial on 18 February 2014 in Hanoi. Le Quoc Quan has been imprisoned since 27 December 2012.
In 2013, the detention of Le Quoc Quan was condemned by the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention for violating his right to freedom of expression and his right to a fair trial. It found that Le Quoc Quan had been targeted for his work as a lawyer and blogger and called for his immediate release or for his conviction to be reviewed by an independent court. It also recommended that Viet Nam pay damages to Le Quoc Quan for his arbitrary detention. The government of Viet Nam has not responded to this statement.
ARTICLE 19 and a coalition of NGOs is calling on the government of Viet Nam to comply with the decision of the United Nations Working Group and release Le Quoc Quan immediately: Media Legal Defence Initiative, Media Defence-Southeast Asia, Lawyers for Lawyers, Avocats Sans Frontières, Front Line Defenders, Access, English PEN, Reporters Without Borders, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Index on Censorship and Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada. They reiterate that the conviction and ongoing detention of Le Quoc Quan are arbitrary and violate his rights to freedom of expression, freedom of association, a fair trial and his rights as a human rights defender.
Notes to editors
- Le Quoc Quan was arrested on 27 December 2012 on baseless charges of tax evasion. Following his arrest, he was held incommunicado and denied permission to see his lawyer for two months. Repeated requests by his family to visit him were also denied. Mr Quan first saw a family member at his trial on 2 October 2013, at which he was convicted of evading corporate income tax and sentenced to 30 months imprisonment and a fine of 1.2 billion dong (approximately USD 59,000). He has appealed this decision.
- The government of Viet Nam has long persecuted Le Quoc Quan for his human rights work. In 2007, after representing numerous victims of human rights violations, he was disbarred from practicing as a lawyer on suspicion of engaging in “activities to overthrow the regime”. He has been arrested several times for continuing his human rights advocacy. Following an attack by unknown assailants in August 2012, he was hospitalised. The attack was never investigated by the police.
- The decision of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention can be downloaded from the website of the Media Legal Defence Initiative by clicking here.
For more information, please contact
- Nani Jansen, Senior Legal Counsel, Media Legal Defence Initiative: [email protected], +44 780 540 4089
- Gail Davidson, Executive Director, Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada: [email protected], +1 604 738 0338
- Adrie van de Streek, Executive Director, Lawyers for Lawyers: [email protected] and +31 626 274 390
- Jochai Ben-Avie, Policy Director, Access Now: [email protected] and +1 347 806 9531
- HR Dipendra, Director, Media Defence – Southeast Asia: [email protected] and +60 13 366 1222
- Eva Galperin, Senior Policy Analyst, Electronic Frontier Foundation: [email protected] and +1 415 436 9333
- Benjamin Ismail, Head Asia-Pacific Desk, Reporters Without Borders: [email protected] and +33 1 44 83 84 84
- Mary Lawlor, Executive Director, Front Line Defenders: [email protected]
- Cat Lucas, Writers at Risk Programme Manager, English PEN: [email protected] and +44 20 7324 2539
- Nathalie Muller Sarallier, Avocats Sans Frontières Network: [email protected] and +33 5 34 31 78 50
- Kirsty Hughes, Chief Executive, Index on Censorship:[email protected]
- Thomas Hughes, Executive Director, Article 19: [email protected], +44 20 7324 2500