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UN expert appalled by execution in Viet Nam

02 October 2023

GENEVA (2 October 2023) – A UN expert today expressed dismay at the execution of a condemned prisoner in Viet Nam, despite repeated calls to spare his life.

“I am disturbed by the execution of Le Van Manh despite calls for clemency, in light of serious doubts about the fairness of his trial proceedings and credible allegations of torture or ill-treatment to extract a confession,” said Morris Tidball-Binz, the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.

Le Van Manh was convicted of murder by the People’s Court of Thanh Hóa Province in Viet Nam in July 2005. There were concerns that he had been coerced into writing a self-incriminating confession, which was later used as evidence against him and led to his death sentence. “Under international human rights law, any statement that is proven to have been made as a result of torture should not be used as evidence in any proceedings,” Tidball-Binz said.

The expert said authorities had not notified Mahn’s next of kin of the execution date, nor had they given the family the opportunity to visit the condemned prisoner before carrying out his sentence. Instead, the family was requested to petition a court to receive his remains within three days.

The Human Rights Committee has stated that “failure to provide individuals on death row with timely notification about the date of their execution constitutes, as a rule, a form of ill-treatment, which renders the subsequent execution contrary to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights”. 

“I am deeply concerned about the secretive nature of the implementation of the death penalty in Viet Nam,” the Special Rapporteur said. “As a result, data and statistics on executions in the country are not publicly available,” he said, adding that transparency is a minimum requirement in the application of the death penalty.

The UN Safeguards Protecting the Rights of those Facing the Death Penalty calls on all Member States to publish, for each category of offence for which the death penalty is authorised, and if possible on an annual basis, information on the use of the death penalty, including the number of persons sentenced to death, the number of executions actually carried out, the number of persons under sentence of death and the number of death sentences reversed or commuted on appeal.

Tidball-Binz urged the Government of Viet Nam to consider adopting a moratorium on the use of the death penalty, and undertake a systematic review of all capital punishment cases.


Morris Tidball-Binz is the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions appointed in 2021. He is a medical doctor specialized in forensic science, human rights and humanitarian action and has contributed to the development and worldwide use of forensic science to investigate and document extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, enforced disappearances, torture and detention conditions, as well as to humanitarian action in armed conflicts and natural catastrophes.

Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

For additional information and media requests please contact the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Gihan Indraguptha ([email protected]) or [email protected].

For media enquiries regarding other UN independent experts, please contact Maya Derouaz ([email protected]) and Dharisha Indraguptha ([email protected])

Follow news related to the UN's independent human rights experts on Twitter: @UN_SPExperts

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