Prisoner of Conscience Hoang Duc Binh Still Suffers from Police Torture on Day of Arrest

Environmentalist and labor activist Hoang Duc Binh (right) at trial on Feb 6, 2018

Defend the Defenders, September 14, 2018

Jailed nvironmentalist and union activist Hoang Duc Binh is still suffering from the injuries caused by police torture on the day he was arrest 16 months ago, Defend the Defenders has learned from his brother.

Mr. Hoang Nguyen, an younger brother of the imprisoned activist unveiled the  information on September 13 after his visit this week to Hoang Duc Binh who is serving his 14-year imprisonment in An Diem prison camp in the central province of Quang Nam.

During the short meeting, Mr. Binh told his brother that on May 15, 2017, after detaining Binh, police officers brutally beat him at his head and other parts of his body.

Due to the police’s torture, Binh’s hearing capacity worsened drastically. Binh still has pain in his ears after 16 months, he told his brother.

Binh asked Nguyen to supply him with medical alcohol for ear cleaning.

Binh couldn’t tell his brother more details of the torture as they talked under close monitoring of police officers.

Police’s torture is not rare in Vietnam although the country’s parliament ratified the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT) in November 2014.

Last month, during the trial of democracy activist Le Dinh Luong, jailed activists Nguyen Viet Dung and Nguyen Van Hoa said that they were tortured for coerced confession during interrogations related to the defendant of the hearing. In June-August, police in Ho Chi Minh City also tortured dissident singer Nguyen Huu Tin twice, and human rights defenders Nguyen Dai and Ngo Thanh Tu in police station.

Mr. Binh, vice president of the unsanctioned organization Viet Labor Movement, was arrested on May 15 last year and charged with “resisting persons in the performance of their official duties” under Article 330 and “Abusing democratic freedoms to infringe upon the interests of the State, the legitimate rights and interests of organizations and/or citizens” under Article 331 of the country’s 2015 Penal Code.

On February 6 this year, the People’s Court of Dien Chau district sentenced him to 14 years in prison in the first-instance hearing and the People’s Court of Nghe An province upheld the sentence in the appeal hearing on April 24.

He was convicted for his defenseofworkers’ rights, and assisting Formosa-affected fishermen in seeking adequate compensation.

Along with being tortured, Binh had been kept incommunicado formonths until few weeks prior to the trial when he was permitted to meet with his lawyer to prepare for his defense. His family was allowed to meet him for the first time in late April, after the appeal.

Many foreign democratic governments and international human rights organizations have called on Vietnam’s government to drop all charges against him and release him immediately.