On the night of November 17, 2022 the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), granted Legal Initiatives For Vietnam (LIV) co-founder, Pham Doan Trang, the 2022 International Press Freedom Award (IPFA) during its annual ceremony held in New York City. She shares the spotlight with three other awardees from Cuba, Iraqi Kurdistan, and Ukraine and all four were chosen for “[withstanding] immense challenges, including government crackdowns, aggression, and imprisonment to bring the public independent reporting amid rampant disinformation and war.”
CPJ President, Jodie Ginsberg, holds the IPFA awardees in high regard. She praises them and says, “Our award winners exemplify the best of journalism: work that shines a light on the impacts of war, corruption, and abuse of power on everyday lives.” She adds that the awardees “demonstrate the central role journalism plays in serving the public good.”
Before her arrest and imprisonment, LIV co-founder, Pham Doan Trang, was part of the main editorial bodies of independent Vietnamese media outlets, Luat Khoa and The Vietnamese Magazine.
On October 6, 2020 at around 11:30 pm, Hanoi police and state authorities raided Trangs’s apartment and arrested her. After a year of being held incommunicado and being denied the liberty to speak to her lawyers and her family, she was convicted in December 2021 at the conclusion of a one-day trial under Article 88 of Vietnam’s 1999 Penal Code for “making, storing, distributing or disseminating information, documents and items against the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.” Pham Doan Trang is currently serving a nine-year long sentence and joins the ranks of the growing number of Vietnamese journalists and dissidents who have been imprisoned for speaking out against the Vietnamese government.
Pham Doan Trang was unable to attend the ceremony and accept her award due to her imprisonment. She was presented onstage by CNN correspondent Omar Jimenez who used this opportunity to demand for her freedom. He says, “...Pham Doan Trang is serving a nine year sentence for the crime of spreading news against the state but the only crime here is her imprisonment. So, I want you to help us turn her story into a demand for her release.”
A mock newspaper, which also doubled as a petition to call for Pham Doan Trang’s release, was given to the ceremony attendees during the pre-dinner reception and post-dinner reception. Vietnam has released prisoners due to international outcry in the past, such as Nguyễn Văn Hải and Nguyễn Ngọc Như Quỳnh, who is also known as “Mother Mushroom.” Both were released after receiving the IPFA in 2013 and 2018, respectively.