Vietnam: Yet another imprisonment under the guise of "abuse of democratic freedoms"

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls for the release of Le Minh The, a Vietnamese political commentator, who was recently sentenced to a two-year-and-a-half prison term. He has been accused of "abusing democratic freedoms" for publishing articles on pollution and territorial disputes in the South China Sea.

On 6 December 2023, Vietnamese political commentator Le Minh The, 60, was sentenced to two and a half years in prison by a court in the city of Can Tho, south Vietnam, for “abusing democratic freedoms” under Article 331 of the Vietnamese Penal Code, an absurd regulation widely used to persecute journalists. According to his family, he refused to be represented by a lawyer at his trial as he "does not trust Vietnamese justice".

The blogger was arrested in February after posting articles focusing on environmental pollution and territorial disputes in the South China Sea on social media. In 2018, Le Minh The already served two years in prison on the same pretext and was released in July 2020.

“Le Minh The was only serving the public interest by commenting on his country’s environmental and international issues, and should never have been detained, let alone sent back behind bars. We call on democracies to step up pressure on the regime to obtain the commentator’s release alongside all 36 other journalists and press freedom defenders detained.

Cédric Alviani
RSF Asia-Pacific Bureau Director

In Vietnam, jailed journalists are almost systematically subjected to ill-treatment and denied medical care. On 2 August 2022, Do Cong Duong died in detention, at the age of 58, as a result of mistreatment in detention. More recently, Le Trong Hung lost 11 kg after a month-long hunger strike he started in September 2023 to protest against his conditions of detention.

Vietnam ranks 178th out of 180 countries and territories, at the bottom of the 2023 RSF World Press Freedom Index, and is among the world’s worst jailers of journalists.

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178/ 180
Score : 24.58
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