Viet Nam: UN rights office alarmed by conviction of renowned human rights lawyer

The United Nations human rights office today urged the Government of Viet Nam to review the conviction of human rights lawyer Le Quoc Quan, who was sentenced to 30 months in prison and fined $60,000 for alleged charges of tax evasion.

“We are alarmed by the fact that the conviction against Mr. Le Quoc Quan was handed down after only one day of trial, and there have been allegations of restrictions of access to the court by his family and supporters,” the spokesperson for the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Rupert Colville, told reporters in Geneva.

“This casts doubts whether his right to fair trial and due process were fully respected.”

Mr. Quan’s case echoes that of Nguyen Van Hai Hai, also known as Dieu Cay, a prominent blogger and founder of the website ‘Club of Free Journalists of Viet Nam,’ who was also charged and convicted in 2008 under tax evasion.

“This raises concerns that such charges may be used to silence human rights activists and those who are critical of the government’s policies and practices,” Mr. Colville said.

Dieu Cay was later sentenced to 12 years’ imprisonment and five years’ probation for “conducting propaganda” against the State for posting articles on the Internet.

“We urge the Government of Viet Nam to review such convictions and trial proceedings which continue to seriously threaten and curb the right to freedom of expression, opinion and association in the country,” Mr. Colville said.

Published on 4 October 2013