Request for accessto healthcare and medical treatment;Protection of rightsto health, humane treatment, dignityand life


H.E. Mr. Nguyen Xuan Phuc- Prime Minister Viet Nam

H.E. Mr. Vu Duc Dam- Deputy Prime Minister/Acting Minister of HealthViet Nam

H.E. General To Lam- Minister of Public Security Viet Nam

H.E. Mr. Le Thanh Long- Minister of Justice Viet Nam


6 April 2020


Your Excellencies,


RE: Detention of 21individuals from Dan Dai Daogroup

Request for access to healthcare and medical treatment; Protection of rights to health, humane treatment, dignity, and life

On behalf of theInternational Commission of Jurists, I am writing to your office regarding 21 individuals, belonging to the An Dan Dai Dao religious group, currently detained following convictions in  January  2013 for allegedly conducting activities with an aim  “to overthrow the people’s administration” in violation of article 79 of Vietnam’s 1999 Penal Code.

We have received credible information that the detained individuals have not been provided with adequate access to healthcare and medical treatment in prison. The provision of healthcare for prisoners is a  State responsibility.

Prisoners should be allowed access to necessary healthcare services in a manner similar to others in society and prompt access to medical attention should be provided in urgent cases. The duty to respect, protect and fulfill the right to health of individuals –by ensuring access to healthcare, health services, facilities, and goods in a non‑discriminatory manner–is incumbent on the State, particularly in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In this light, we note the call of the UN High Commissioner of Human Rights on 25 March highlighting the spread of the virus through places of detention across the world,  and urging all governments to take urgent action to protect the health and safety of people in detention in their efforts to combat the pandemic.

We urge your offices to conduct medical examinations and risk assessments of all detainees and release detainees particularly vulnerable to the virus, including older detainees and those who are sick or suffering from pre-existing medical conditions –including the 21 individuals. One of the detainees from the An Dan Dai Dao group has already died. In October 2019, Doan Dinh Nam (aged 68/Male) passed away due to kidney failure in Xuyen Moc prison where he was being held.

The ICJ has received credible information, according to which he was not provided with requisite medical attention, including daily dialysis treatments. In May 2019, his family had submitted a request for temporary suspension of his prison sentence due to his ill-heath, which was denied.

Of the remaining 21 detainees, the ICJ has received information according to which most have not been provided adequate access to healthcare and medical treatment, including, in particular, these persons with serious health conditions:

1.Phan Van Thu (also known as ‘Tran Cong’) (aged 72/Male)

2.Ta Khu(aged 73/Male)

3.Phan Thanh Y (aged 72/Male)

4.Vo Ngoc Cu(aged 69/Male)

5.Le Phuc (aged 69/Male)

6.Vo Tiet (aged 68/Male)

7. Do Thi Hong (aged 63/Female)

8.Tran Phi Dung (aged 54/Male)


We would be grateful for any information that would clarify the situation of these detainees.

The failure to provide necessary treatment to the detainees leaves them vulnerable to deterioration or serious pre-existing medical conditions –in violation of the State’s obligations to protect their rights to health, humane treatment, dignity, life and freedom from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.

The scope of duty regarding the provision of healthcare for prisoners is set out in Rules 24to 35 of the revised United  Nations  Standard  Minimum  Rules for the  Treatment of  Prisoners (“Nelson Mandela Rules”), a copy of which is annexed for your convenience. These Rules were adopted on 17 December 2015 by the consensus of all UN States, including Vietnam, in UN General Assembly Resolution 70/175.

In the context of COVID-19, we are also concerned that your authorities’ failure to provide the detainees with equal access to healthcare and medical attention can result in their greater vulnerability to contracting the virus within detention. We therefore urgently request your offices to take immediate steps to:

  • Ensure that the responsible authorities provide the detained individuals with access to adequate, prompt and continuous healthcare and medical attention, in line with Vietnam’s  Constitution,  and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)  and the  International  Covenant on Economic,  Social and  Cultural  Rights (ICESCR)–both to which Vietnam is a State party. Such provision should also be in accordance  with the United  Nations  Standard  Minimum  Rules  for  the  Treatment  of Prisoners (“Nelson MandelaRules”), which should be fully implemented;
  • Ensure that the responsible authorities meet the State’s obligations to provide the equal right of access to healthcare, health facilities, goods and services to all prisoners and detained individuals;
  • Conduct medical examinations and risk assessments of all persons held in detention, and release those  particularly  vulnerable  to  the COVID-19 virus,  including  older detainees and those who are sick or suffering from pre-existing medical conditions, including the 21 individuals, and in particular, the eight individuals specified above;
  • Ensure that the 21 individuals are not subjected to torture or other ill-treatment and that their rights to humane treatment, dignity, and life are protected in accordance with articles 7 and 10 of the ICCPR and the UN Convention against Torture (UNCAT), to which Vietnam is a State party.

We appreciate your urgent attention to this matter. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any comments or questions. We stand by to provide any assistance required.

Yours faithfully,

Frederick Rawski

Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific

International Commission of Jurists