UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention highlights the case of lawyer Huynh Van Dong, finds Hanoi regime in violation of international law
January 5, 2012
During the sixty-first session of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, the United Nations body found the government of Vietnam to be in violation of its international obligations by arbitrarily detaining seven democracy and land rights activists and denying them the right to a fair trial.
The Working Group highlighted several violations of essential defense rights, such as the right for a defendant to meet and communicate with his or her lawyer before trial, or lawyers’ rights to have access to a copy of the indictment before trial. The Working Group also noted that Huynh Van Dong’s expulsion from the Courtroom, where he was representing two of the defendants, was in breach of article 14 ICCPR.
The International Observatory for Lawyers applauds this decision of a major United Nations Human Rights treaty body, which reaffirms essential defense rights, including lawyers’ rights to fulfill their professional duties in all independence and without any hindrance or interference from external sources, as stated in the Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers.
The International Observatory for Lawyers, which monitors the case of Mr. Dong and supports him, wishes to recall that subsequently to the aforementioned trial, Mr. Dong was arbitrarily and unfairly disbarred from the Ben Tre Bar Association, at the request of the People’s Court of Ben Tre Province. The Bar Association accused Mr. Dong of taking advantage of his lawyer activities in order to infringe upon the interests of the state. The Observatory expressed its great concern concerning this decision, against which Mr. Dong has been refused any legal recourse to this day. Furthermore, since the disbarment, Mr. Dong’s freedom of movement has been restricted and his family has been harassed and interrogated.
The International Observatory for Lawyers therefore urges Vietnamese authorities to fully comply with the decision issued by the Working Group, and calls on the Ben Tre Bar Association to reconsider its refusal to offer Mr. Dong a legal recourse against its decision to disbar him. The Government of Vietnam must at all times respect the rule of law and grant its citizens due process and the right to a fair trial.
Finally, the Observatory also calls on all Bar Associations, Lawyers’ Organisations, Human Rights organizations and individuals to continue to support Mr. Dong and other Vietnamese human rights lawyers who are being threatened and persecuted because of their professional activities.