The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) has criticized the case against a Vietnamese Australian facing a 12-year sentence as lacking grounds for arrest.
The comments came in a published report in the first week of June, regarding the case of Chau Van Kham, an Australian resident and member of the banned US-based opposition Viet Tan party. WGAD also released a report on Nguyen Bao Tien, a driver who volunteered for a publishing house founded by an imprisoned activist.
According to the documents No. 13/2022 and No. 35/2022, approved by the WGAD at its 93rd session from March 30 to April 8, 2022, the agency considers the arrests of Tien and Kham to be arbitrary. The WGDA called on the Vietnamese government to take the necessary measures to remedy their situation immediately and in accordance with relevant international conventions, including those set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights ( ICCPR).
Chau Van Kham, 72, was arrested on January 13, 2019 for “operation to overthrow the people’s administration”.
He was later sentenced to 12 years in prison on another charge of ‘terrorism aimed at opposing the people’s administration’, because he was a member of Viet Tan, which the Vietnamese ministry calls a ‘terrorist’ organization. of Public Security. Viet Tan has been described by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights as a group of moderate activists advocating democratic reform.
The WGAD said it was not the general rule to arrest Chau Van Kham without a warrant in violation of Article 9 of the ICCPR.
The agency said the deprivation of his liberty was arbitrary as he only exercised the freedoms of conscience and belief as well as the right to expression enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the ICCPR. He said Kham’s connection to Viet Tan could not be considered grounds for arrest.
The WGAD also criticized Kham’s limited consular access to the Australian Mission in Vietnam and inadequate legal assistance.
In an interview with Radio Free Asia this week, Viet Tan President Do Hoang Diem said:
“At the moment we are in Australia and the purpose of our trip is to meet Australian politicians and elected officials to campaign for Mr Chau Van Kham.”
“This UN decision is very timely. With this verdict, it is clear that Mr. Chau Van Kham is innocent… We will fight for Mr. Kham to be free and return to his family.
In March, the Vietnamese government responded to criticism by saying Kham had been arrested for breaking Vietnamese law, not for his democratic views. The government said his arrest and sentencing were carried out in accordance with Vietnamese law, in accordance with international conventions that Vietnam has ratified.
Hanoi said it advertised Viet Tan as a terrorist organization with the aim of overthrowing the government through methods such as armed activity, directly threatening national security and social order, and recruiting and training members to use weapons and explosives.
The government said that Kham illegally entered Vietnam on January 11, 2019, under the leadership of Viet Tan, to organize recruitment and training for sabotage and terrorist activities.
Since his arrest, many Australian civic and parliamentary groups have called on the Canberra government to pressure the Vietnamese government to secure his release. However, he is still detained and forced to do hard labor in a Vietnamese prison.
In a separate report, the task force commented on Nguyen Bao Tien, 36, a book courier and volunteer worker for the liberal publishing house. The publishing house was founded by imprisoned activist Pham Doan Trang and is not registered with the Vietnamese government,
Tien was arrested on May 5, 2021 for “propaganda against the state” under Article 117 of the Penal Code. He was sentenced to 5 years and 6 months in prison on January 21 this year.
The WGAD said Tien was only punished for peacefully exercising the right to freedom of expression and association, as provided for in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the ICCPR. He noted that during his detention and trial, Tien was denied the right to a lawyer.
In March, the Vietnamese government said Tien had been arrested for violating national law and that upon his arrest and trial, his rights were guaranteed.
The government said Tien possessed and distributed 108 books containing content defaming the regime’s policies in order to call for the overthrow of the people’s government.
GTDA operates under the auspices of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), with a mandate “to investigate cases of deprivation of liberty imposed arbitrarily or inconsistent with international standards set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights”. ‘man, or the legal instruments accepted by the States concerned’.
Over the past five years, he has published material criticizing the arbitrary arrest and sentencing of dozens of prisoners of conscience, including Tran Huynh Duy Thuc, Pham Chi Dung, Nguyen Tuong Thuy, Pham Doan Trang, Nguyen Thuy Hanh and The Van Dung. He called on the Vietnamese government to release them.
However, Vietnam sentenced them to long prison terms and placed them in prisons with harsh living conditions.