STANFORD, Calif., May 9, 2013— On behalf of seventeen Vietnamese social and political activists, Allen Weiner, senior lecturer in law and director of the Stanford Program in International and Comparative Law, has filed comments in response to the Vietnamese government’s reply to a petition filed last year with the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD) that challenged the legality of the arrest and detention of the activists. Weiner, counsel for the petitioners, rejects the justifications invoked by the government of Viet Nam for the activists’ detention and reiterates the request that Viet Nam release all of the detainees immediately to remedy the human rights violations stemming from their arbitrary arrest and detention.
In July 2012, Weiner filed a petition with the UNWGAD on behalf of Mr. Francis DANG Xuan Dieu and others who have been arrested, tried, and convicted in Vietnamese courts for violating several Vietnamese criminal laws that outlaw “activities aimed at overthrowing the people’s administration,” the “undermining of national unity,” and participating in “propaganda against the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam.” According to Weiner, the detainees have suffered a range of human rights violations, including violations of their fundamental rights of expression, assembly, and association, as well as rights aimed at ensuring a fair trial. They were arbitrarily convicted by the government of Viet Nam in a series of closed trials between May 2012 and January 2013.
The petition before the UNGWAD, which is responsible for examining cases of arbitrary detention, emphasized that the petitioners’ arrest and detention violated international due process and fair trial rights guaranteed under the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and other international legal instruments. Last month, the government of Viet Nam submitted a reply to the petition, in which it reiterated that the petitioners had been convicted for violations of Vietnamese law.
Commenting on Hanoi’s reply, the comments state: “Viet Nam’s argument merely confirms that it is utilizing its domestic legal provisions as an instrument to deny petitioners rights that Viet Nam has agreed to guarantee to its citizens under international law.”
“Viet Nam has invoked a series of vague and open-ended criminal statutes to selectively target Vietnamese citizens whose only crime is to engage in nonviolent forms of political and social activism,” said Weiner. “These petitioners have been convicted and sentenced to long terms of imprisonment simply for writing blog posts, signing petitions, and joining nonviolent protests related to a range of issues, including calls for multiparty democracy and opposition to social injustices. Others have been convicted merely for their membership in an opposition political party that is committed to peaceful political change in Viet Nam. In short, they have been engaged in legitimate forms of peaceful political expression protected under international law.”
In its reply, the government of Viet Nam accused eleven of the petitioners of engaging in only one specific act: having “participated in overseas trainings” organized by Viet Tan, a pro-democracy political party. Vietnamese authorities have provided no credible explanation as to why participation in peaceful training is a criminal offense under Vietnamese or international law.
The petitioners are as follows: Mr. DANG Xuan Dieu, Mr. HO Duc Hoa, Mr. NGUYEN Van Oai, Mr. CHU Manh Son, Mr. DAU Van Duong, Mr. TRAN Huu Duc, Mr. LE Van Son, Mr. NONG Hung Anh, Mr. NGUYEN Van Duyet, Mr. NGUYEN Xuan Anh, Mr. HO Van Oanh, Mr. THAI Van Dung, Mr. TRAN Minh Nhat, Ms. TA Phong Tan, Mr. TRAN Vu Anh Binh, Mr. NGUYEN Dinh Cuong, and Mr. HOANG Phong.
UNWGAD is currently in session in Geneva and may be releasing an opinion on this matter shortly.
Read the April 25, 2013 comments on Viet Nam’s reply to the petition: Vietnam UNWGAD comments GOV reply w_annexes (25 APR 13).
The original petition is available here: UNWGAD Vietnam Petition (25 JUL 12).
The first announcement of the July 2012 filing can be read here. A January 2013 update to the filing can be read here.
About Allen S. Weiner
Allen S. Weiner is senior lecturer in law, director of the Stanford Program in International and Comparative Law, and co-director of the Stanford Center on International Conflict and Negotiation at Stanford University. He is an international legal scholar with expertise in such wide-ranging fields as international and national security law, the law of war, international conflict resolution, and international criminal law (including transitional justice). His scholarship focuses on international law and the response to the contemporary security threats of international terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. He also explores the relationship between international law and the invocation of domestic “war powers” in connection with the U.S. response to terrorism. In the realm of international conflict resolution, his highly multidisciplinary work analyzes the barriers to resolving violent political conflicts. Weiner’s scholarship is deeply informed by experience; he practiced international law in the U.S. Department of State for more than a decade advising government policymakers, negotiating international agreements, and representing the United States in litigation before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, the International Court of Justice, and the Iran-United States Claims Tribunal. Before joining the Stanford Law School faculty in 2003, Weiner served as legal counselor to the U.S. Embassy in The Hague and attorney adviser in the Office of the Legal Adviser of the U.S. Department of State. He was a law clerk to Judge John Steadman of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals.
About Stanford Law School
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