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26 Jan 2023

RFA Vietnamese

Vietnam: UN Working Group condemns detention of environmental activist Nguyen Ngoc Anh

"UN condemns Vietnam’s detention of environmental activist" 26 January 2023

The United Nations has condemned Vietnam’s 2018 arrest and detention of Nguyen Ngoc Anh, a 43-year-old environmental activist and farming engineer who was charged with conducting “anti-State propaganda.”

The U.N.’s Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions called on the Vietnamese government to immediately release the activist and take corrective actions, saying his detention violated international conventions that Vietnam is party to. 

The U.N. entity also focused on the arbitrary nature of his detention, and the conditions Anh faces while in prison.

Prior to his arrest, Nguyen Ngoc Anh would post stories about the environmental pollution issues caused by the Formosa Steel Corporation factory in Ha Tinh province.  In 2018, he also participated in demonstrations in Ho Chi Minh City against Vietnam’s draft Laws on Cyber Security and Special Economic Zones. [...]

On the day of his arrest, the U.N. entity said that “no arrest warrant was read or provided to [Anh] at the time. Following the arrest, the police conducted a search of his home and seized a number of items, including mobile phones and a laptop.” 

His family was largely restricted from visiting him, and guards at the prison always monitored the few visits that were allowed. 

During one of those visits, “Anh was unable to walk properly, suffering noticeably from an injury to his leg. He refused to discuss how he sustained the injury, showing fear that that might make his situation worse,” the report added. 

In October 2019, over a year after his arrest, Anh was reportedly assaulted by a cellmate and was left with several injuries. Afterward, “he was denied access to a medical practitioner and was refused any X-rays, and was given pain relief medication for two days only.”

The U.N. group was concerned that if it continued, the systemic problem of arbitrary detention in Vietnam “may amount to a serious violation of international law.”

According to the document, which was transmitted to Vietnam 60 days before publication, the Vietnamese government did not deny the allegation that Anh had been beaten by the police and his fellow inmates before and after his trial. [...]

Part of the following timelines

Vietnam: WHRD who exposed Formosa environmental disaster "arbitrarily" detained

Vietnam: Fire at Formosa steel factory evokes memories of 2016 environmental catastrophe