Vietnam should respect the right of freedom of expression, says DROI Chair
In reaction to the sentencing to 7 years imprisonment of Nguyen Van Hoa, Vietnamese activist, Mr. Panzeri, Chair of the Subcommittee on Human Rights stated:
"I have learnt with dismay of the 7 year sentence against Mr. Nguyen Van Hoa for expressing his views on this environmental disaster, which caused a very serious problem for the livelihood of fishermen in the Ha Tinh province. Last February I led a DROI mission to Vietnam and I raised the issue of the environmental contamination caused by the toxic discharge from the Taiwanese-owned steel plant (Formosa) with the authorities and I asked the government to respond to the concerns of its people. The DROI delegation also expressed its serious concern regarding the restriction on freedom of expression, arbitrary arrests, and heavy prison sentences of bloggers, dissidents, civil society actors, human rights and environmental rights defenders. We stressed that the violation of human rights goes against the international human rights conventions to which Vietnam is a party and we called upon the Vietnamese authorities to guarantee human rights and freedom of expression.”
He added: "I call, once again, on the Vietnamese government to respect the right of freedom of expression of Vietnamese citizens and ask them to reconsider the 7-year sentence against Nguyen Van Hoa. It is essential to:
- Address the environmental disaster, which caused massive destruction of fish in the region and affected the lives of thousands of people, through legislative measures aimed at restoring and rehabilitating the local economy,
- Properly compensate the fishermen concerned for the damage inflicted,
- Ensure respect for human rights, as they are core elements for the ratification of the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement and the EU-Vietnam Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA)".
On 27 November Nguyen Van Hoa, Vietnamese blogger and activist, 22 years old, was sentenced to 7 years imprisonment by the Court for having spread online information, including videos, on the environmental disaster in the Ha Tinh province. The so-called “Formosa disaster” occurred in April 2016 when the Taiwanese-owned Formosa Plastics Group's steel complex dumped toxins into the ocean with devastating environmental effects in which hundreds of tons of fish were killed along the 200 kilometers coastline in the Ha Tinh province.