Mr. Le Chi Quang, a 32 year old lawyer, was arrested on 21 February 2002 at an Internet café in Hanoi, detained in B14 prison camp with charges of sending ‘dangerous’
28 October 2002 he is going to stand trial, facing the charges of ‘propaganda against the State and ‘harming the national security’.
Bringing him before the court, the Politburo of the communist party of Vietnam clearly violates the International Covenant on Civil & Political Rights (ICCPR) Vietnam signed on 24 September 1982. In the first (1989) and second (July 2002) reports to the UN Human Rights Committee, Hanoi focused only on legal reform issues, not on the practical implementation of the ICCPR and there were many areas where ‘Vietnamese law & practice’ were far from being in conformity with the Covenant, thus violations were becoming daily reality for many of the Vietnamese population.
All the Vietnamese people are actually concerned that the charges of crimes against national security, which include such categories as high treason, subversion and espionage are vague, ill defined and operate in ‘catch-all’ manner with the risk that those who disagree with the politburo may find themselves detained for doing no more than exercising their rights to freedom of expression as set forth in article 19 of the ICCPR.
Article 2 of the ICCPR on ‘the duty of the State to ensure all individuals enjoy the rights of the Covenant without distinction of any kind’ is not guaranteed. Especially the duty to ensure that no distinction is made on the basis of political or other opinion is absent from the Vietnamese law, and indeed, individuals are imprisoned on the basis of political or other opinion that questions the political supremacy of the communist party of Vietnam.
Violations of article 9 of the ICCPR concerning Liberty & Security of Person occur in the main because the law often criminalizes some fundamental ICCPR rights. Thus while individuals may be arrested on charges of having violated Vietnamese law, the nature of these laws is in some cases arbitrary, resulting in violations of article 9. For example, article 87 of the Penal Code ‘undermine the unity policy’ states: Those who commit 1 of the following acts with the views to opposing the people’s government shall be sentenced from 5 to 15 years of imprisonment:
1- Sowing division among people of different strata, between people & the armed forces or the people’s government or social organizations.
2- Sowing hatred, ethnic bias and/or division, infringing on the rights to equality among community of Vietnamese nationalities.
3- Sowing division between religious people & non-religious people, division between religious believers & the people’s government or social organizations.
4- Undermine the implementation of policies for international solidarity.’
This article is used by the politburo to criminalize peaceful political & religious dissent from government policy, and leads to the arbitrary arrest, detention and sentencing of those who, on account of their conscientiously-held peaceful views, oppose government policy on a variety of issues. Specifically, individuals are subject to detention & imprisonment for exercising the rights & freedoms guaranteed by the ICCPR.
It is a matter of great concern to many progressive people on the world that the Vietnamese authorities continue to insist that those people are held because they are law-breakers. Vietnamese law is clearly & deliberately drafted to criminalize the right to freedom of expression. While newspapers & the broadcast media under strict government control are expected to promote government policy & party ideology and may not publish dissenting views.
We are deeply concerned of the extensive limitations on the right to freedom of expression in the mass media and the fact that the Press Law does not allow the existence of private press.
We greatly regret that many the fundamental rights guaranteed under the Covenant are not upheld in Vietnam.
We believe that a greater degree of openness, a willingness to accept constructive criticism would bring about concrete progress in upholding the rights & fulfillment of Vietnam’s duty toward the treaty.
The politburo of the Vietnamese Communist Party should take all necessary measures to put an end to direct or indirect restrictions on freedom of expression. The Press Law should be brought into compliance with article 19 of the Covenant.
The Vietnamese people from North to South and overseas strongly condemn the dissident Le Chi Quang’s court case and morally never recognize any form of punishment inflicted on him whatsoever. He is truly a respectable freedom fighter. The defendant before the International Tribunal of Human Conscience would have been the politburo of the communist party of Vietnam for their wrongdoings flagrantly violating the ICCPR Vietnam has acceded since 1982.
Publicly sentencing Le Chi Quang would risk triggering and initiating a widely popular protest voicing for freedom of thought & expression among the Vietnamese people, particularly the young. That’s inevitable sooner or later.
Eventually People’s will is God’s will. /.
Saigon 26 October 2002
Dr.Nguyen Dan Que
1994 Raoul Wallenberg HR Award of the US Congress
1995 Robert F.Kennedy HR Award
2002 Hellman/Hammet HR Award
104/20 Nguyen Trai P3 Q5