NEW YORK (June 25, 2018) — On Friday, June 22, the Human Rights Foundation (HRF) submitted an individual complaint to the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD) requesting that it initiate a formal investigation into the arrest, pre-trial detention, wrongful conviction, and harsh sentencing of Vietnamese activist Trần Thi Xuân. Trần is a Vietnamese human rights activist who participated in environmental protests to demand compensation for fishermen affected by a 2016 toxic chemical spill. She is a member of the Brotherhood for Democracy, a nonviolent, prodemocracy alliance of human rights defenders in Vietnam.
“In our submission to the UNWGAD, HRF argued that Trần Thi Xuân’s deprivation of liberty is the result of her association with the Brotherhood for Democracy and her prodemocracy activism,” said Joy Park, legal counsel for Asia at HRF. “We urge the UNWGAD to declare that, by arbitrarily imprisoning Trần, Vietnam has failed to fulfill its international obligations under articles 18 and 20 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and articles 19 and 22 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.”
According to The 88 Project, Trần Thi Xuân was arrested without an arrest warrant on October 17, 2017, and was kept incommunicado in pre-trial detention until her unannounced, closed trial on April 12, 2018. Prior to the trial, Trần was not allowed to retain an attorney to represent her, and her family was not notified of the trial date. She was subsequently wrongfully convicted under Article 79 of the 1999 Vietnam Penal Code for “attempting to overthrow the people’s government.” The People’s Court of Hà Tĩnh province sentenced her to nine years in prison and five years of house arrest. She was given 15 days to appeal the court’s decision, but her family and attorney were not allowed to visit her until the appeal deadline had expired. Trần’s arrest appeared to be part of an ongoing crackdown against the Brotherhood for Democracy. Since 2017, eight members of the alliance have been convicted on trumped up charges and sentenced to prison.
This individual complaint is submitted as part of HRF’s impact litigation project. In 2017, HRF submitted three petitions in defense of dissidents who had been arrested in Cuba, Turkmenistan, and Zimbabwe. The petitions led to decisions by the UNWGAD declaring their arrests arbitrary and calling for compensation under international law.
The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization that promotes and protects human rights globally, with a focus on closed societies.
Read HRF’s full submission to the UNWGAD here.
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