Viet Nam: Prisoners of conscience face a long term sentence

The three prisoners of conscience are the nephews and niece of imprisoned Catholic priest and prisoner of conscience, Father Nguyen Van Ly.

The three will be tried for infringing upon 'the interests of the State' at Ho Chi Minh City People's Court on 10 September 2003. This charge can carry a prison sentence of between two and seven years.

The two brothers Nguyen Vu Viet and Nguyen Truck Cuong have been held in pre-trial detention for over two years. Their sister Nguyen Thi Hoa, a single mother of four, has been under house arrest.

As Amnesty International understands, the original charges of 'espionage' against the Vietnamese siblings have been dropped. Although this serious charge has been suspended there is a concern that the three still face a lengthy prison sentence for exercising their right to freedom of expression.

The human rights organisation believes that the case against the three is directly related to official anger resulting from their uncle's activities. His prison term has recently been reduced from 15 to ten years.

Amnesty International said:

'The three siblings should have been released immediate and unconditionally. However, as this did not happen we are requesting clarification of the case.

'We are urging the authorities to ensure that any resulting trial is held in public. The three must have access to lawyers and their trial must comply with international standards.'

Background

Religious dissidents from faiths including the Hoa Hao Church, the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam, the Roman Catholic Church and Protestant churches continue to be subjected to harassment and detention for their peaceful religious activities.

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