Anti-corruption Campaigner Nguyen Viet Bang Arrested on Allegation of “Abusing Democratic Freedom”

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Defend the Defenders, May 14, 2019


Authorities in Vietnam’s northern province of Bac Ninh have arrested local anti-corruption campaigner Nguyen Viet Bang for his denunciations against senior bank officials, Defend the Defenders has learned.

On May 13, the Security Investigation Agency of the Bac Ninh province’s Police Department arrested him and conducted a house search of his private residence in Bac Ninh city.

According to Hanoi-based lawyer Ha Huy Son, who participates in many political cases, said Mr. Bang, 60, is likely charged with “abusing democratic freedom” under Article 331 of the country’s 2015 Penal Code.

Mr. Bang will be held for investigation in the next four months at least, and he is facing imprisonment of up to seven years, if is convicted, according to the current Vietnamese law.

Mr. Bang is a deputy director of Tien Du district’s branch of the Vietnam Bank for Social Policies. He has submitted a number of denunciations accusing the Bac Ninh province branch’s director named Doan Van Khai and his colleague named Nguyen Ba Binh of financial frauds and mistreatment of staff.

The Communist Party of Vietnam which monopolistically rules the country for decades and its government have verbally encouraged people to fight against corruption. However, numerous citizens have been imprisoned or received reprisals after speaking out about state officials’ corruption.

Last year, Bac Ninh convicted anti-corruption activist Do Cong Duong, sentencing him to a total 8 years in prison on charges of “disturbing public orders” and “abusing democratic freedom” in a trumped-up case in a bid to silence him.

Banking is one of the most corrupted sectors in Vietnam where corruption is systemic and the country scored 33 points out of 100 on the 2018 Corruption Perceptions Index reported by Transparency International. Corruption Index in Vietnam averaged 28.04 Points from 1997 until 2018, reaching an all-time high of 35 Points in 2017 and a record low of 24 Points in 2002.