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20 January 2010



Prominent human rights lawyer and former deputy president of the Ho Chi Minh City Bar Association

Lê Công Dinh

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sentenced to five years in prison on subversion charges.






On 20th January 2010 ,  the People’s Supreme Court in Ho Chi Minh City sentenced Lê Công Định to five years in prison, following a one-day trial, for “carrying out activities aimed at overthrowing the people’s administration”, under Article 79 of the Vietnamese Penal Code, after he acknowledged engaging in activities for democratisation and a multiparty political system in Vietnam.

Lê Công Định was sentenced together with three other democracy activists, namely Messrs. Tran Huynh Duy Thuc, Nguyen Tien Trung and Le Thang Long, who were sentenced to up to 16 years in prison for promoting multiparty democracy.
The stiffest sentence in the one-day trial was given to Tran Huynh Duy Thuc, an Internet entrepreneur who testified that he had sought ways to improve Vietnam's political culture and root out corruption but insisted he had done nothing wrong.
Meanwhile, the court sentenced  French-trained IT engineer and blogger Nguyen Tien Trung to 7 years and Le Thang Long to 5 years in prison. After the four defendants finish serving their sentences, they will remain under house arrest for 3-5 years.


Lê Công Định, Tran Huynh Duy Thuc and a third defendant could have been sentenced to death. According to Paris-based Vietnam Committee on Human Rights (VCHR), the judges’ conclusions had clearly been pre-prepared. Proceedings that should have lasted two days were hastily wrapped up in one day. The court is officially reported to have showed leniency because Lê Công Định  was obliged to acknowledge breaking the law during his testimony in order to escape to be sentenced much lower than the penalty framework."From the bottom of my heart, I myself and these three other defendants had no intention to overthrow the government," he  told the court. According to a press remlease from the Communist Partry in Viet Nam, the Court "was favorably taking into account Le Cong Dinh’s sincere declaration and repentance…".


The trial was carried out under tight security, with more than a dozen police outside the gate and around the courthouse. Neither relatives of the accused nor foreign journalists were allowed into the courtroom. Several foreign diplomats and journalists were allowed to watch the trial but only via a (badly-transmitted) video link in an adjacent room of the court. In addition, reporters were barred from using recording devices, cameras or mobile phones.


According to the few diplomats who were allowed to watch the trial , the unfair trial was prepared in advance. Western diplomats and human rights groups slammed the verdict, saying the defendants had been punished for peacefully expressing their political views. American ambassador   expressed concern "about the apparent lack of due process in the conduct of the trials" and urged immediate release of the prisoners. The European Union delegation to Vietnam said in a statement, that "The trial and verdicts are a major and regrettable step backwards for Vietnam" .

Lê Công Định, 41,   is a prominent human rights lawyer and the former Vice-President of the Ho Chi Minh City Bar Association. He runs a private law firm in Ho Chi Minh City.  Le Cong Dinh   He is a well-respected member of the Vietnamese and international legal communities, and a former Fulbright scholar.

Married to a former Miss Vietnam, Mr Dinh is also known as a charismatic and active writer and columnist, whose commentaries on Vietnam's politics and current affairs appeared in many publications and online forums overseas. Mr Dinh rose to prominence when he represented Vietnamese fish farmers fighting an unfair trade complaint brought by U.S. catfish growers. During closing arguments at a 2007 human rights trial in Hanoi, Dinh made a highly unusual public plea for freedom of expression.

In recent years, Mr Dinh defended some of Vietnam's leading human rights and democracy activists. In November 2007 he represented human rights lawyers Nguyen Van Dai and Le Thi Cong Nhan, two other prominent prisoners of conscience, at the appeal court hearing against their sentences. At the hearing he and other lawyers argued that Article 88, under which the two were charged, is unconstitutional and contravenes international human rights treaties that Viet Nam has ratified, such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and should therefore be reviewed. He also represented Nguyen Hoang Hai, a blogger known as Dieu Cay, who was tried in September 2008 on politically motivated criminal charges for writing critical articles and calling for human rights.Le Cong Dinh has also been an outspoken critic of recent bauxite-extraction in the Central Highlands, as well as calling for political reform in Viet Nam.

Lê Công Định was arrested at his office in Ho Chi Minh City on 13 June by Public Security police for "colluding with domestic and foreign reactionaries to sabotage the Vietnamese state" by publishing documents distorting the country's socio-economic policies, a senior security official said. He has been charged with “conducting propaganda” against the state, under Article 88 of the Penal Code. He was alleged to have been found with a copy of a new constitution he wrote aiming to replace the current one.  Lê Công Định was charged Mr Dinh with Article 88 of the Vietnam's Criminal Code for distributing anti-government materials.

Shortly before his arrest, he had spoken out against the extraction of bauxite in the Central Highlands, and had also called for political reform in Viet Nam. In recent years, he has also defended several Viet Nam human rights and democracy activists. In August 2009, he was compelled to make a public “confession” broadcast on television.

On 1 July 2009, the deputy head of the Ho Chi Minh City Bar Association told journalists that it had disbarred and that the Ministry of Justice had revoked his licence, forbidding him to practice law.

Urge the Vietnamese authorities to guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Le Cong Dinh and to release him immediately and unconditionally since his detention is arbitrary as it only aims at sanctioning his human rights and pro-democracy activities.

Call upon the Vietnamese authorities to put an end to any kind of harassment - including at the judicial level - against all human rights defenders in Viet Nam, in conformity with the 1998 UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders as well as with international and regional human rights instruments ratified by Viet Nam.


SENT THE IDHAE LETTER (Addresses below)


ENVOYEZ LA LETTRE  IDHAE  (Adresses ci-dessous)



[votre nom  ici]


Monsieur le Président,

Monsieur le Ministre,

Je  tiens à vous exprimer ma profonde émotion à la suite de la  condamnation de mon confrère,  Me Le Cong Dinh, avocat spécialisé dans la défense des droits de l'homme et ancien vice président de l'ordre des avocats
d’Ho Chi Minh-Ville.

Me Le Cong Dinh
  avait été arrêté le 13 juin dans son cabinet uniquement pour avoir exercé pacifiquement son droit à la liberté d’expression.


 A la suite d'un procès d'une journée , le 20 janvier 2010, l'avocat, Me Lê Công Định, bien connu pour avoir exercé sa mission d’avocat en défendant notamment  des confrères militant pour les droits de l'Homme, a été condamné à une peine de  cinq ans de prison.


Vous n’ignorez pas que les chefs de mission de l’Union européenne à Hanoi ont  exprimé leur vive préoccupation à l’issue du procès et que les diplomates qui ont pu y assister ont estimé qu’il s’agissait d’un jugement contraire aux "obligations" internationales du Vietnam en matière de droits de l'Homme.


Car, lors du même procès, en même temps que l’avocat,  trois autres militants pour la démocratie, qui  avaient été arrêtées dans la même période, Nguyễn Tiến Trung, 26 ans, diplômé de l’école d’ingénieurs INSA Rennes en France, Tran Huynh Duy Thuc, 43 ans, et Le Thang Long, 42 ans, ont été condamnées à des peines de cinq à 16 ans de prison, pour tentative de renversement du régime communiste.


Je suis informé  de ce que la  Cour a reproché aux militants d'avoir tenté de renverser le gouvernement par des moyens "non violents", notamment via de la "propagande" contre le régime sur l'internet, parce qu’il souhaitaient  la formation d'un mouvement démocratique.


Or, il m'apparaît qu'une circulation libre de l'information et le partage d'idées sont vitaux pour le développement à long terme de la société


Je demande donc instamment au gouvernement vietnamien :

de bien vouloir prendre toute les mesures pour réviser la décision rendue, d’abandonner les charges retenues contre Me Le Cong Dinh et de le libérer immédiatement et sans condition, ainsi que ses trois autres condamnés du 2O janvier 2010.


Je l’exhorte à modifier ou à abroger les dispositions du Code pénal de 1999 qui érigent en infraction la contestation politique pacifique, ainsi qu’à faire respecter les droits à la liberté d’expression et d’association, conformément aux traités relatifs aux droits humains que le Viêt-Nam a ratifiés.

Je vous prie de croire, Monsieur le Président, à l’expression de ma considération respectueuse.



[votre signature ici]





His Excellency  Nguyên Minh Triêt
President de la République
C/o Ministry of Foreign Affairs
République socialiste du Viêt-Nam Son Excellence  / Monsieur le President de la République,

Nguyên Tân Dung
Premier Ministre
1 Hoang Hoa Tham Street
République socialiste du Viêt-Nam
844 823 1872 (via le ministère des Affaires étrangères)
Courriers électroniques : [Email] (via le ministère des Affaires étrangères)
Formule d’appel : Dear Prime Minister, / Monsieur le Premier Ministre,

Ministre de la Sécurité publique :
Le Hong Anh
Ministry of Public Security
44 Yet Kieu Street
Ha Noi
République socialiste du Viêt-Nam
Fax : + 844 825 2733
Formule d’appel : Dear Minister, / Monsieur le Ministre,


Ministre de la Santé :
Tran Thi Trung Chien

Ministry of Health
138A Giang Vo Street Ban Dinh District Ha Noi République socialiste du Viêt-Nam Fax : + 844 826 5303

Formule d’appel : Dear Minister, / Madame la Ministre,





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