Viet Nam
Urgent Interventions

Arbitrary detention of Mr. Pham Chi Dung

VNM 003 / 1119 / OBS 097

Arbitrary detention /

Judicial harassment/
Obstacle to freedom of expression

November 22, 2019

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership ofFIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requests your urgentintervention in the following situation in Vietnam.

Description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed bythe Vietnam Committee on Human Rights (VCHR) about the arbitrary arrest anddetention of Mr. Pham Chi Dung, a journalist, founder of the IndependentJournalist Association of Vietnam (IJAVN)[1]and worker rights activist. As an independent journalist, Mr. Pham Chi Dung haswritten articles criticizing the government’s human rights record, andcollaborated with several foreign media, such as Voice of America andthe BBC, under different pen names.

According to the informationreceived, on November 21, 2019, Mr. PhamChi Dung was arrested by security officers at his home in Ho Chi Minh City andcharged with “making, storing or disseminating information, documents,materials and items against the Socialist Republic of Vietnam” (under Article117 of the Criminal Code). According to the police, Mr. Pham Chi Dung wrote“anti-State articles” and “cooperated with foreign media to deliver distortedinformation”. Shortly after his arrest, IJAVN’s website ( was shut down by the authorities. If found guilty,Mr. Pham Chi Dung could face a sentence of five to 20 years of prison.

Mr. Pham Chi Dung’s arrest comes as theEuropean Parliament (EP) considers ratification of the EU-Vietnam Free TradeAgreement (EVFTA). On November 10, 2019, Mr. Pham Chi Dung sent a petition tothe EP urging its members to postpone ratification of the EVFTA until issues ofworker rights and human rights have been addressed.

This is not the first time Mr. Pham Chi Dung has been detained for thelegitimate exercise of his right to freedom of opinion and expression. In 2012,Mr. Pham Chi Dung was arrested over the same accusation, and released sixmonths later without being tried. He has also been frequently harassed by theauthorities and was banned from traveling abroad in 2014.

The Observatory stronglycondemns the arbitrary detention and judicial harassment of Mr. Pham Chi Dung,which seem to be only aimed at punishing him for his legitimate exercise of hisright to freedom of expression. The Observatory calls on the Vietnameseauthorities to immediately release Mr. Pham Chi Dung and put an end to any actsof harassment, including at the judicial level, against him and all the humanrights defenders in the country. The Observatory further calls on theauthorities to respect the right to freedom of opinion and expression asenshrined in Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and PoliticalRights (ICCPR).

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities ofVietnam asking them to:

i. Guarantee, in all circumstances, the physical integrity andpsychological well-being of Mr. Pham Chi Dung and of all human rights defenders in Vietnam;

ii. Immediately and unconditionallyrelease Mr. Pham Chi Dung as hisdetention is arbitrary and merely aimed at punishing him for his human rightsactivities;

iii. Guarantee the access of Mr. Pham Chi Dung to his relatives and a lawyer of his choice;

iv. Put an end to any harassment,including at the judicial level, against Mr. Pham Chi Dung and all human rightsdefenders in Vietnam, and ensure in all circumstances that they are able tocarry out their legitimate activities without any hindrance or fear ofreprisals.

v. Respect under any circumstancesthe right to freedom of opinion and expression in accordance with Article 19 ofICCPR.

vi. Conform to the provisions of the UN Declaration onHuman Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nationson December 9, 1998, in particular with Articles 1, and 12.2.

vii. Ensure in all circumstances respect for humanrights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rightsstandards and international instruments ratified by Vietnam.


· Mr. Nguyen Phu Trong, President of Vietnam;Email:

· Mr. Nguyen Xuan Phuc, Prime Minister of Vietnam;Email:

· Mr. Pham Binh Minh, Minister of Foreign Affairsof Vietnam; Fax: 84-4-38231872 – 84-4-37992682, Email:

· Mr. Le Vinh Tan, Minister of Home Affairs of Vietnam;Fax: 84-4-39781005

· Mr. Le Thanh Long, Minister of Justice ofVietnam; Fax: 84-4-38431431

· Mr. To Lam, Minister of Public Security ofVietnam; Fax: 84-4-9420223

· Mr. Mai Tien Dung, Minister, Office of theGovernment (OOG), Vietnam; Fax: 84-4-80 44130

· Permanent Mission of Vietnam to the UnitedNations in Geneva, Switzerland; Fax: +41 (0) 22-798 07 24, Email:

· Embassy of Vietnam in Brussels, Belgium; Fax:+32 (0)2 374 93 76, Email:

Please also write to the diplomaticrepresentations of Vietnam in your respective countries.


Paris-Geneva, November 22, 2019

Kindly inform us of any action undertakenquoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (theObservatory) was created in 1997 by FIDH and the World Organisation AgainstTorture (OMCT). The objective of this programme is to prevent or remedysituations of repression against human rights defenders. FIDH and OMCT are bothmembers of, the European Union Human Rights DefendersMechanism implemented by international civil society.

[1] Phạm Chí Dũng is aformer member of the Communist Party (Internal affairs commission of Ho ChiMinh City Communist Party). He left the Communist Party in 2013, and announcedthe creation of the Independent Journalists’ Association of Vietnam on July 4,2014. Its membership consists of over 70 journalists defending freedom of pressin Vietnam.

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