Vietnam – Appeal court to rule on conviction of Ms Bui Thi Minh Hang who was sentenced to three-years’ imprisonment

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Bui Thi Minh Hang is a human rights defender and blogger. She publishes information on human rights violations in Vietnam and provided support to victims of land grabs. Bui Thi Minh Hang was previously sent to a ‘re-education camp’ for two years by the People’s Committee of Hanoi City, and was eventually released after six months in June 2012. This conviction is believed to have resulted from the human rights defenders’ work on land rights.

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frontlinedefenders.org | Dec 11, 2014

On 12 December 2014, Dong Thap Province Appellate Court in Vietnam is expected to examine the sentence of human rights defender Ms Bui Thi Minh Hang who was sentenced earlier this year to three-years’ imprisonment under Article 245 of Vietnam’s Criminal Code for “causing public disorder”.

Bui Thi Minh Hang is a human rights defender and blogger. She publishes information on human rights violations in Vietnam and provided support to victims of land grabs. Bui Thi Minh Hang was previously sent to a ‘re-education camp’ for two years by the People’s Committee of Hanoi City, and was eventually released after six months in June 2012. This conviction is believed to have resulted from the human rights defenders’ work on land rights. Bui Thi Minh Hang was one of 21 people beaten and detained when they attempted to visit the partner of a human rights lawyer who defends victims of forced evictions. The visit was to provide support to the woman after her husband was detained during a police raid of their house on 9 February 2014. Eighteen of those detained were released the next day, but Bui Thi Minh Hang and two other activist were charged with “causing public disorder” and remained in custody.

On 26 August 2014, in a one-day trial, Bui Thi Minh Hang was sentenced by the Court of First Instance to three-years’ imprisonment. Her co-defendants, Mr Nguyen Van Minh and Ms Nguyen Thi Thuy Quynh, religious workers from the independent Buddhist Church, faced two-and-half-year and two-year sentences respectively.

The public were not allowed to attend the trial even though, according to Vietnamese legislation, it must be held publicly. The police blocked the entrance to the court building to prevent the public from attending and a number of prominent human rights defenders were stopped or taken into custody by security officials prior to the trial. Approximately 33 individuals were detained and several activists in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City were barred from leaving their homes in the days before the trial.

The witnesses for the defence were also prevented from attending the trial, despite the fact that they were officially summoned to the court hearing. According to the human rights defenders’ lawyers, they were only informed of the criminal charges against their defendants and of the police investigation’s findings several days prior to the trial, contravening Vietnamese legislation which stipulates that the lawyers must be informed further in advance.

Front Line Defenders urges the authorities in Vietnam to overturn the conviction of Bui Thi Minh Hang in the Appeal Court, as she was prosecuted solely for her peaceful and legitimate human rights work.