Last Updated: Friday, 25 July 2014, 12:52 GMT

2012 Predators of Press Freedom: Vietnam - Nguyen Phu Trong, Communist Party general secretary

Publisher Reporters Without Borders
Publication Date 4 May 2012
Cite as Reporters Without Borders, 2012 Predators of Press Freedom: Vietnam - Nguyen Phu Trong, Communist Party general secretary, 4 May 2012, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4fa77cd2c.html [accessed 26 July 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Nguyen Phu Trong, appointed general secretary of the country's only legal political party on 19 January 2011, has lost no time in silencing critical voices. During the months that followed his taking office, the former president of the national assembly (2006-2011) has cracked down hard on cyber dissidents.

The conservative-dominated party that he heads has maintained unrelenting pressure on pro-democracy activists, for fear that the kind of opposition movements ignited in the Middle East could spread to Vietnam.

In April 2011, Cu Huy Ha Vu was sentenced to seven years in prison and three years under house arrest for "anti-state propaganda." Vi Duc Hoi, another pro-democracy activist convicted of the same charge, had his sentence of eight years' imprisonment and three years' house arrest reduced to five years in prison and three years under house arrest.

Since Trong's appointment, seven netizens have been imprisoned, in all cases for calling for a multi-party system or democracy. The ruling party uses the legal system against dissidence on the Web. A draft decree under consideration, scheduled for possible enactment in June this year, would enlist Internet companies in an effort to strengthen censorship on the Web.

Traditional media have not been spared. Radio journalists Vu Duc Trung and his brother-in-law, Le Van Tranh, were sentenced in November 2011 to three and two years in prison respectively for "illegal broadcasting." On 2 January 2012, Hoang Khuong (real name: Nguyen Van Khuong), a journalist for the daily Tuoi Tre, was arrested on a charge of having bribed a police officer, in the course of reporting on police corruption.

Trong's censorship and arrest powers override the authority of the prime minister and of the president, and are carried out in defiance of the international community's recommendations.

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