International Publishers Association condemns treatment of Vietnamese publisher

 The International Publishers Association has issued a strong statement condemning the decision by the Hanoi court of appeal on 25 August to uphold the conviction of Vietnamese publisher, journalist and author Pham Doan Trang on charges of alleged “anti-state propaganda”.

The IPA ‘condemns the judgement and calls on international governments that value freedom of expression to use all diplomatic means to secure Pham Doan Trang’s release on the grounds that her trial was compromised, and especially in light of reports of ill health’.

Kristenn Einarsson, Chair of the IPA’s Freedom to Publish Committee said: “This persecution of Pham Doan Trang must stop. Her unjust incarceration leaves her in ill health and we urge all governments that value freedom of expression to work urgently to secure her release.”

 Trang has had a long-running battle with the authorities in Vietnam.  In recognition of her perseverance and bravery, she received the 2020 IPA Prix Voltaire on behalf of Liberal Publishing House.  In 2021 she was given a nine-year prison sentence.

 Responding to the original Court judgement José Borghino, IPA Secretary General, said: “All publicly available information about this case, the charges and the process make it impossible to see this as anything but a show trial. The International Publishers Association commends Pham Doan Trang for her bravery in the face of this persecution which can only be intended to intimidate others into silence.”

 Reports in The Vietnamese noted that foreign diplomats from the United States, the Czech Republic, Germany, Switzerland, and the EU delegation in Vietnam were not allowed to attend the trial, which had previously been declared to be open to the public. The US Department of State was outspoken in its condemnation of the ruling: 

It said: ‘The United States is deeply concerned by the upheld conviction and nine-year prison sentence of renowned Vietnamese author and journalist Pham Doan Trang.  Trang, a 2022 winner of the Secretary of State’s International Women of Courage Award, has been recognized internationally for her work to advance human rights and good governance in Vietnam.  The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention found in September 2021 that Trang’s detention is arbitrary and in contravention of Vietnam’s international human rights commitments.  We note reports of Trang’s declining health and urge Vietnam to ensure adequate medical care and to allow access to Trang to assess her medical condition.’ 

It added: ‘Trang’s continued detention is the latest instance in an alarming pattern of arrests and sentencing of individuals in Vietnam for peacefully expressing their opinions.  We call for the Vietnamese government to release Trang and to allow all individuals in Vietnam to exercise their right to freedom of expression, without fear of retaliation, consistent with the human rights provisions in Vietnam’s constitution and Vietnam’s international obligations and commitments.’