UN Working Group asked to examine case of unlawful rendition and detention of Vietnamese journalist

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Posted on: 
17 Sep 2019


MLDI has filed a complaint to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention against Thailand and Viet Nam in connection with the unlawful rendition and detention of prominent Vietnamese investigative journalist and blogger Truong Duy Nhat.

Truong Duy Nhat fled to Thailand from his home in Viet Nam in January 2019. Shortly after arriving in Thailand he visited the office of the UNHCR in Bangkok. The following day, 26 January 2019, he was detained by Thai police and handed over to the Vietnamese authorities. From that moment Truong Duy Nhat was effectively disappeared, until March 2019 when the Vietnamese authorities confirmed he was detained in a prison in Hanoi. He remains in prison.

The complaint to the UN Working Group makes the case that the primary reason for Truong Duy Nhat’s detention is to prevent him from carrying out his journalistic work. He was convicted and imprisoned on spurious charges relating to his journalistic work in 2013 and, following publication of a series of articles critical of the Vietnamese government at the end of 2018, had received information he would be arrested. For that reason he decided to flee the country.

The complaint requests that the UN Working Group make a finding that Truong Duy Nhat’s detention is arbitrary and that it recommend his immediate and unconditional release. The complaint also requests that the UN Working Group recommend that Thailand and Viet Nam carry out an investigation into the circumstances of Truong Duy Nhat’s rendition and detention.

The rendition of Truong Duy Nhat follows a well-documented pattern of forcible transfers of political dissidents between member states of the ASEAN. Soon after his return to Viet Nam, three Thai dissidents were arrested by the Vietnamese authorities and returned to Thailand. State authorities in Viet Nam, Cambodia, Malaysia and Thailand have all been accused of trading political dissidents of neighbouring governments, even in circumstances where those dissidents have secured refugee status with the UNHCR. Truong Duy Nhat’s detention is also consistent with the Vietnamese government’s own policy of arbitrarily detaining journalists critical of the state.

MLDI’s Legal Director Padraig Hughes said: “Truong Duy Nhat’s detention is unlawful and his case requires urgent attention. The circumstances of his case shows that Viet Nam is willing to act outside its territorial limits, and conspire with neighbouring governments, in order to silence any dissent.”

For further information please contact Padraig Hughes at Padraig.hughes@mediadefence.org