The detention of Vietnamese blogger, lawyer and human rights activist, Le Quoc Quan, has been condemned by a United Nations human rights tribunal as violating his right to freedom of expression and his right to a fair trial.
The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, a tribunal set up under the UN’s Human Rights Council, found that Le Quoc Quan had been targeted for his work as an activist and as a blogger and called for his immediate release or for his conviction to be reviewed by an independent court. It also recommended that Viet Nam should pay damages to Le Quoc Quan for his arbitrary detention.
While Le Quoc Quan had been imprisoned for alleged tax evasion, the tribunal found that his detention might be “the result of his peaceful exercise of the rights and freedoms guaranteed under international human rights law” and “related to his blog articles on civil and political rights.” The tribunal added that “given Mr Quan’s history as a human rights defender and blogger, the real purpose of the detention and prosecution might eventually be to punish him for exercising his right [to freedom of expression] and to deter others from doing so.”
The Working Group’s condemnation is in response to a petition filed by the Media Legal Defence Initiative, Media Defence-Southeast Asia, Lawyers for Lawyers, Avocats Sans Frontières, Front Line Defenders, Access, English PEN, Reporters Without Borders, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, ARTICLE 19, Index on Censorship and Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada.
These organisations now call on the government of Viet Nam to comply with the decision of the United Nations Working Group and release Le Quoc Quan immediately. They reiterate that the conviction and ongoing detention of Le Quoc Quan are arbitrary and violate his rights to freedom of expression, freedom of association, a fair trial and his rights as a human rights defender.