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Press briefing notes on Viet Nam

Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Ravina Shamdasani
Location: Geneva
Date: 11 December 2014

We are alarmed at the recent spate of violent attacks on human rights defenders in Viet Nam and are concerned by the apparent failure of the authorities to investigate and prosecute the perpetrators.

The third such incident since September took place last Sunday (6 December) when Mr. Nguyen Van Dai, a prominent lawyer, and three other human rights defenders were conducting a training forum in Nam Dan District, Nghe An Province. Police attempted to halt the forum for human rights defenders, but the 60 participants refused to leave. Police then stayed on to monitor the session. After the course ended, the four activists were beaten by a group of about 20 men armed with sticks. 

In the two other recent cases, in November and September, human rights lawyers and activists were attacked, apparently in reprisal for their work on sensitive cases.

We have expressed our concern to the Vietnamese authorities over these attacks and sought clarification on serious allegations that plainclothes policemen were involved.

We urge the Government of Viet Nam to take urgent measures to ensure the security of all human rights defenders and to undertake prompt, thorough and impartial investigations of all the reported incidents involving human rights defenders.

Human rights defenders are entitled to particular protection by State authorities under international human rights law. The relevant standards are outlined in the Declaration on the right and responsibility of individuals, groups and organs of society to promote and protect universally recognized human rights and fundamental freedoms (Declaration on Human Rights Defenders), which was adopted by the UN General Assembly by consensus in 1999.

ENDS

For more information or media requests, please contact  Ravina Shamdasani (+41 22 917 9169 / rshamdasani@ohchr.org ) or Cécile Pouilly (+41 22 917 9310 / cpouilly@ohchr.org)

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