Viet Nam
Urgent Interventions

Arbitrary detention of Ms. Pham Thi Doan Trang


VNM 001 / 1020 / OBS 111
Arbitrary detention /

Incommunicado detention /

Judicial harassment

October 14, 2020

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.

Descriptionof the situation:

The Observatory has been informed byreliable sources about the arbitrary detention of Ms. Pham Thi Doan Trang,author, blogger, journalist, and pro-democracy activist. She is the editor ofthe online magazine Luât Khoa[1] and the founder of the Liberal PublishingHouse[2]. As ajournalist, she contributes regularly to several independent news sites. As anauthor, she wrote many books, including one defending the rights of Vietnam’sLGBT communities. She was awarded the Reporters Without Borders 2019 Press FreedomPrize for Impact[3].

Accordingto the information received, on October 6, 2020, at about 11.30 pm, Ms. PhamThi Doan Trang was arrested by the police at her home in Ho Chi Minh City andsubsequently charged with “making, storing, distributing or disseminatinginformation, documents and items against the Socialist Republic of Vietnam”under Article 117 of the Vietnam’s Criminal Code. If convicted, she could faceup to 20 years in prison. She was later transferred to Detention Center No. 1in Hanoi’s Tu Liem District, where she is currently being detainedincommunicado. Ms. Trang has had no access to a lawyer since her arrest.

Ms. Trang’s arrest occurred a fewhours after the annual US-Vietnam Human Rights Dialogue in Hanoi. The meetingaddressed several human rights issues, including the rule of law, freedom ofexpression and association, religious freedom, and labour rights.

This is not the first time Ms. Pham Thi Doan Trang has been arrested for the legitimate exercise of herright to freedom of opinion and expression. Since 2009, Ms. Trang has beensubjected to arbitrary arrests, violent physical attacks, and other acts ofharassment by the authorities on numerous occasions. She was first arrested inAugust 2009 in for her advocacy against China-backed bauxite mining projects inVietnam. In May 2016, police arrested her in Ninh Binh Province to prevent herfrom attending a meeting with then-US President Barack Obama in Hanoi. In Februaryand May 2018, she was briefly detained by police on two separateoccasion. In August 2018, she was severely beaten by the police because of heractivities as an online journalist.

TheObservatory strongly condemns the arbitrary detention and judicial harassmentof Ms. Pham Thi Doan Trang, which seem to be only aimed at punishing her forher legitimate human rights activities and for the exercise of her right tofreedom of expression.

The Observatory calls on theVietnamese authorities to immediately release Ms. Pham Thi Doan Trang and putan end to any acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against herand all the human rights defenders in the country.


Please write to the authorities ofVietnam asking them to:

i. Guarantee, in all circumstances, the physical integrity andpsychological well-being of Ms. Pham Thi Doan Trang and of all other human rights defenders in Vietnam;

ii. Immediately and unconditionally release Ms. Pham ThiDoan Trang as her detention is arbitrary and merelyaimed at punishing her for her human rights activities;

iii. Guarantee the access of Ms. Pham Thi Doan Trang to her relatives and a lawyer of her choice;

iv. Put an end to any harassment,including at the judicial level, against Ms. Pham Thi Doan Trang and all humanrights defenders in Vietnam, and ensure in all circumstances that they are ableto carry out their legitimate activities without any hindrance or fear ofreprisals.

v. Conformto the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted bythe General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, in particularwith Articles 1, and 12.2.

vi. Ensurein all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms inaccordance with international human rights standards and internationalinstruments ratified by Vietnam.


· Mr. Nguyen Phu Trong, President of Vietnam;

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

· Mr. Pham Binh Minh, Minister of Foreign Affairs of 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 of Vietnam; Fax: 84-4-38431431

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

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

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

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

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


Paris-Geneva, October 14, 2020

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

The Observatory for theProtection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 byFIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT). The objective of thisprogramme is to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rightsdefenders. FIDH and OMCT are both members of, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented byinternational civil society.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergencyline:


Tel FIDH +33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18

Tel OMCT +41 (0) 22 809 49 39

[1] Luât Khoa is an onlinemagazine that specialises in providing information about legal issues.

[2] The Liberal Publishing House is the onlyindependent publishing house in Vietnam.

[3] See :

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