Concluding observations UN Human Rights Committee on Viet Nam
In March 2019, the UN Human Rights Committee reviewed Viet Nam’s compliance with its international human rights obligations. Last week, the Committee issued the concluding observations of this review.
In the concluding observations the Committee expressed its concern “about allegations of violations of fair trial guarantees, especially of human rights defenders, political activists, and individuals accused of crimes related to national security. These include the denial of the right to legal assistance, access to a lawyer of their choice, a trial within a reasonable time; as well as insufficient time and facilities to prepare their defence, and the lack of lawyer-client confidentiality pursuant to article 19 of the Penal Code. It is concerned at reports that lawyers representing the persons above face retaliation, disbarment, harassment, threats, arbitrary arrest and detention, and physical attacks, which undermines the right to fair trial. The Committee is particularly concerned of the case of lawyer Nguyen Van Dai (arts. 2, 9, 14 and 22).”
Furthermore, Lawyers for Lawyers welcomes the recommendation in which the Committee calls on the Vietnamese authorities to “ensure:
(a) The right to a fair trial without undue delay, in accordance with article 14 of the Covenant and the Committee’s general comment No. 32 (2007) on the right to equality before courts and tribunals and to a fair trial;
(b) That detainees have unhindered, prompt and adequate access to the lawyer of their choice or free legal aid from the outset of the detention, and that all communication between counsel and the accused remains confidential, and that the presumption of innocence is strictly observed;
(c) That lawyers are able to advise and represent persons charged with criminal offences in accordance with generally recognised professional ethics, without restrictions, influence, pressure or undue interference from any quarter in line with the UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers; and ensure investigation and prosecution of threats and attacks on lawyers and provide them with effective remedies.”
Lawyers for Lawyers submitted two joint reports with Lawyers Rights’ Watch Canada on Viet Nam to the Committee: a submission on the List of Issues and a submission for the session of the review. In these submissions, L4L and LRWC highlighted the failure of the Vietnamese authorities to take substantive steps to ensure the right to fair trial and the problems lawyers in Viet Nam are facing. Lawyers are subjected to threats, intimidation, physical attacks, prosecution and long terms of arbitrary detention in connection to their professional activities and the exercise of their right to freedom of expression.
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