Stanford Law School’s Allen Weiner Files Petition with the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention on Behalf of Seventeen Vietnamese Social and Political Activists

United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD) Petition
United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD) Petition

STANFORD, Calif., July 25, 2012—Allen Weiner, director of the Stanford Program in International and Comparative Law at Stanford Law School, today filed a petition with the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD) in Geneva contesting the illegal arrest and on-going detention of seventeen Vietnamese social and political activists. The petition requests the UNWGAD to call upon the Socialist Republic of Vietnam (SRV) to release all of the detainees immediately to remedy the human rights violations stemming from their arbitrary arrest and detention.

According to Weiner, over the course of the past year, all seventeen of the activists were arrested and detained by the SRV for violating several Vietnamese criminal laws that outlaw “activities aimed at overthrowing the people’s administration,” the “undermining of national unity,” and participating in “propaganda against the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.” The petitioners are affiliated with the Roman Catholic Redemptorist Church in Vietnam. Eleven of the petitioners have been charged as being members of Viet Tan, a Vietnamese pro-democracy party. The detainees have suffered a range of human rights violations, including violations of their fundamental rights of expression, assembly, and association. This petition before the UNGWAD, which is responsible for examining cases of arbitrary detention, emphasizes that the petitioners’ arrest and detention violated international due process and fair trial rights guaranteed under the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and other international legal instruments. These international law violations include, among others things, warrantless arrests, lengthy pre-trial detention without the filing of charges and in violation of domestic time limits on detention, and little to no access to legal counsel and family members throughout their detention.

“In keeping with a growing pattern of such human rights abuses by the SRV, these seventeen petitioners were arrested arbitrarily without the slightest legitimate justification. They are alleged to have violated Vietnamese laws that the government uses to prohibit basic freedom of speech, assembly, and association,” said Allen Weiner, senior lecturer at Stanford Law School and counsel for the petitioners. “Making matters worse, after their arrest, the petitioners were each held incommunicado for months and some were even convicted without the help of a lawyer. As we speak, most of these petitioners are languishing in jail without outside contact and without basic knowledge as to why they were arrested and detained.”

The Petitioners: Seventeen Vietnamese Social and Political Activists Who Have Been Detained
The Petitioners: Seventeen Vietnamese Social and Political Activists Who Have Been Detained

According to Weiner, it appears that the trigger for the petitioners’ arrest and detention was their participation in online and in-person activities that advocate for governmental action on a broad range of human rights and social justice issues, including environmental, health, legal, political, land, and corruption based concerns. In a growing trend around the world, governments like the SRV are using their legal systems to stifle dissent and challenges to illegal governmental restrictions and human rights abuses. This petition before the UNWGAD is one step in exposing this alarming tactic.

The petitioners are as follows: Mr. DANG Xuan Dieu, Mr. HO Duc Hoa, Mr. NGUYEN Van Oai, Mr. CHU Manh Son, Mr. DAU Van Duong, Mr. TRAN Huu Duc, Mr. LE Van Son, Mr. NONG Hung Anh, Mr. NGUYEN Van Duyet, Mr. NGUYEN Xuan Anh, Mr. HO Van Oanh, Mr. THAI Van Dung, Mr. TRAN Minh Nhat, Ms. TA Phong Tan, Mr. TRAN Vu Anh Binh, Mr. NGUYEN Dinh Cuong, and Mr. HOANG Phong. Pursuant to UNWGAD rules, if the petition is deemed admissible by the Working Group, the SRV will be given an opportunity to respond before the UNWGAD issues a decision on the matter, which may include recommendation to SRV on the petitioners’ cases.

“I am very thankful for the invaluable assistance provided by the human rights and rule of law NGO Destination Justice in preparing this petition, which we all hope will persuade the SRV to release the petitioners immediately,” said Weiner.

The full petition is available here: UNWGAD Vietnam Petition (25 JUL 12)

About Allen S. Weiner

Allen S. Weiner is senior lecturer in law, director of the Stanford Program in International and Comparative Law, and co-director of the Stanford Center on International Conflict and Negotiation at Stanford University. He is an international legal scholar with expertise in such wide-ranging fields as international and national security law, the law of war, international conflict resolution, and international criminal law (including transitional justice). His scholarship focuses on international law and the response to the contemporary security threats of international terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. He also explores the relationship between international law and the invocation of domestic “war powers” in connection with the U.S. response to terrorism. In the realm of international conflict resolution, his highly multidisciplinary work analyzes the barriers to resolving violent political conflicts. Weiner’s scholarship is deeply informed by experience; he practiced international law in the U.S. Department of State for more than a decade advising government policymakers, negotiating international agreements, and representing the United States in litigation before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, the International Court of Justice, and the Iran-United States Claims Tribunal. Before joining the Stanford Law School faculty in 2003, Weiner served as legal counselor to the U.S. Embassy in The Hague and attorney adviser in the Office of the Legal Adviser of the U.S. Department of State. He was a law clerk to Judge John Steadman of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals.