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18 January 2018
Nguyen Van Oai is a human rights defender, Christian activist, citizen journalist and co-founder of the Association of Catholic Former Prisoners of Conscience. He was sentenced to four years’ imprisonment in 2013 for ‘attempting to overthrow the government’. Following his release in 2015, he was placed on administrative probation for four years.
On 15 January 2018, the People’s Court in Nghe An province upheld the sentence given by the People’s Court in Hoang Mai town on 18 September 2017, when he was sentenced to five years in prison and four years under house arrest. He was found guilty of “resisting persons in the performance of their official duties” under Article 257 and “failing to execute judgements” under Article 304 of the Vietnamese Penal Code. On 19 January 2017, the defender was arrested while on probation in Nghe An province and charged under Articles 257(1) and 304 of the Penal Code.
Nguyen Van Oai’s lawyer commented that both the trial and the appeal hearing violated fair trial standards. In addition, the defender’s family was not allowed to attend the appeal hearing and on the day of the appeal hearing, the authorities blocked roads leading to the court and deployed police to prevent activists and relatives to gather outside the court in support of Nguyen Van Oai. Many of those who gathered in support of the defender were beaten and kept in custody for hours.
Front Line Defenders strongly condemns the conviction of human rights defender Nguyen Van Oai, which it believes is solely motivated by his peaceful and legitimate work for human rights in Vietnam, and calls on the Vietnamese authorities to quash his conviction and immediately release the human rights defender.