Suppression of Lawyers
Lawyers in criminal proceedings are accused of spreading propaganda against the government, carrying out subversive activities, and attempts to overthrow the government, for which years of imprisonment and even capital punishment may be imposed. Often, in addition to a lengthy prison sentence, they are also placed under house arrest, which can interfere with other lawyers in their work. Estimates today are that more than 400 activists, including lawyers, are locked up in prisons or under house arrest.
Legal practice in Vietnam
Currently more than 5,000 lawyers work in Vietnam. The legal profession in Vietnam is regulated by the Ministry of Justice and the local Bar Association in each province.
To practise law, a certificate issued by the Ministry of Justice is required and the lawyer must be admitted to the Bar in the places he practises. The respective Bar Association then issues a licence to its members.
The Vietnamese Lawyers Association (Vietnamese Lawyers Federation) is the national Bar Association to which the local Bars are affiliated. The Vietnamese Lawyers Federation is not independent, since it is part of the Fatherland Front – the umbrella organisation of all pro-government movements in Vietnam.
After Vietnam’s accession to the World Trade Organization, the Vietnamese market for foreign lawyers opened up. For example, foreign law firms advising on Vietnamese legislation and regulations and the Vietnamese lawyers who are employed by them may act in legal proceedings.
International Human Rights treaties
The government of Vietnam has ratified five human rights treaties.
Vietnam has ratified the following treaties:
- International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) was ratified on24 September 1982, and entered into force on 24 December 1982.
- Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) was ratified on 17 February 1982 and entered into force on 19 March 1982.
- International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) was 5ratified on 9 June 1982 and entered into force on 9 July 1982.
- International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) was ratified on 24 September 1982 and entered into force on 24 December 1982.
- Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) was ratified on 28 February 1990 and it entered into force on 2 September 1990.
- Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict (CRC-OP-AC) was ratified on 20 December 2001 and entered into force on 12 February 2002.
- Optional Protocol on the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography (CRC_OP-SC) was ratified on 20 December 2001 and entered into force on 18 January 2002.
Vietnam has signed the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRDP) on 22 October 2007.
Activities of L4L
L4L organised letter writing campaigns to the authorities pointing out that the sentences and house arrests were in breach of internationally recognised rights. A letter writing campaign was held for the following lawyers:
Letter writing campaign for Cù Huy Hà Vũ (May 2011)
Letter writing campaign for Le Cong Ding (January 2010 and July 2009)
Letter writing campaign for Nguyễn Văn Đài (May 2011 and January 2010)
Letter writing campaign for Lê Thị Công Nhân (May 2011 and January 2010)
The practice of these lawyers consisted of human rights cases, and they promoted the interests of ethnic minorities, including protestors who were persecuted by the government. Often they acted for farmers whose land was taken by the Vietnamese government.