March 31, 2016
We are deeply concerned by the Vietnamese government’s conviction and sentencing of peaceful dissenters in two court cases on March 30 under Article 88 of Vietnam’s Penal Code, “spreading anti-state propaganda.” The Ho Chi Minh City People’s Court sentenced blogger Mr. Nguyen Dinh Ngoc (also known as Nguyen Ngoc Gia) to four years in prison followed by three years of probation. In a separate trial the same day, the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Court convicted three activists, Ms. Ngo Thi Minh Uoc, Ms. Nguyen Thi Tri, and Ms. Nguyen Thi Be Hai. Ms. Uoc was sentenced to four years and Ms. Tri and Ms. Hai to three years, with all three receiving an additional two years of probation.
The use of criminal provisions to silence dissenting opinions is worrying and inconsistent with the right to freedom of expression provided for in Vietnam’s Constitution and with Vietnam’s obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and other international commitments. We call on the government to release these four individuals unconditionally, as well as all other prisoners of conscience, and allow all Vietnamese to express their views peacefully, without fear of retribution.