Vietnam: Second trial brings blogger’s total prison sentence to nine years

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls on the Vietnamese authorities to stop persecuting independent journalists who give voice to the population’s demands, after a blogger was given an additional five-year jail sentence just weeks after being sentenced to four years in prison.

Do Cong Duong will now have to serve a total of nine years after a court in Bac Ninh, on the outskirts of Hanoi, imposed the five-year sentence on 12 October on a charge of “abusing democratic freedom.” He was given the four-year sentence on 17 September on a charge of “disturbing public order.”

Duong was arrested in January for posting articles and video reports about land rights, in particular, about the evictions to which the most vulnerable sectors of the population are increasingly being subjected as a result of rapid urbanization in Vietnam.

“This double sentence constitutes outright persecution,” said Daniel Bastard, the head of RSF’s Asia-Pacific desk. “By jailing Do Cong Duong, the Vietnamese authorities are depriving civil society of yet another blogger who was giving voice to the population’s demands. It is time to end this all-out offensive by the ruling party’s current leadership, which is hell-bent on silencing all independent voices.”

On the same day that Duong receiving his second sentence, RSF learned that the Hanoi police had decided to hold freelance journalist Le Anh Hung for another two months while they continue to investigate his activities.

Hung was arrested on 5 July on suspicion of “abusing democratic freedom” in connection with the analyses he published about the risks to Vietnam’s sovereignty posed by a proposed law on Special Economic Zones. The unveiling of this bill and a proposed cyber-security law set off a major outcry in June.

Vietnam has long been near the bottom of RSF’s World Press Freedom Index and is ranked 175th out of 180 countries in the 2018 Index.