September 21, 2017
Nguyen Van Oai sentenced to five years imprisonment and four years house arrest
Front Line Defenders, September 18, 2017
On 18 September 2017, human rights defender Nguyen Van Oai was sentenced to five years in prison and four years under house arrest. He was found guilty of “resisting persons in the performance of their official duties” and “failing to execute judgements” during his probation for a previous sentence related to the defender’s human rights work.
Nguyen Van Oai is a human rights defender, a citizen journalist and the co-founder of the Association of Catholic Former Prisoners of Conscience. In 2013, he was sentenced to four years’ imprisonment for “attempting to overthrow the government”. Following his release in 2015, he was placed on administrative probation for four years.
On 18 September 2017, the People’s Court in Hoang Mai town, Nghe An province, found Nguyen Van Oai guilty of “resisting persons in the performance of their official duties” under Article 257 and “failing to execute judgements” under Article 304 of the Vietnamese Penal Code. He was sentenced to three years in prison for the first charge and two years for the second charge, and was also handed a sentence of four years of house arrest. The relatives of Nguyen Van Oai as well as international observers sent by diplomatic missions were not permitted to enter the courtroom, despite an announcement by the authorities that the hearing would be a “public trial”. Outside the courthouse, police deployed trucks with jamming devices to block cellular service.
On 19 January 2017, the defender was arrested while on probation in Nghe An province and charged under Articles 257(1) and 304 of the Penal Code. Nguyen Van Oai was accused of resisting on-duty state officials during his arrest and breaching the terms of his administrative probation by leaving his locality without first informing the local authorities. The human rights defender was on administrative probation in connection with a previous sentence for “attempting to overthrow the government”, a charge related to his human rights activities including his journalism and participation in peaceful demonstrations.
Front Line Defenders strongly condemns the conviction of human rights defender Nguyen Van Oai, which it believes is solely motivated by his peaceful and legitimate work for human rights in Vietnam, and calls on the Vietnamese authorities to quash his conviction and immediately release the human rights defender.