Legal Initiatives for VIETNAM co-director Trinh Huu Long denounces the unjust legal procedure that his colleague Pham Doan Trang is experiencing in the hands of the authorities.  The prominent journalist is currently detained and her legal counsel and family are barred to see her.  Furthermore, no indictment has been turned over to her lawyers.


Authorities in Vietnam are ready to try activist and author Pham Doan Trang after more than a year of pretrial detention, but her family and lawyers told RFA that they have not had access to Trang or been shown the indictment against her.

Rights groups at the time of her arrest condemned her apprehension and warned that the blogger faced the risk of torture in custody.

After the family asked permission to meet with Trang, the Hanoi Procuracy told them the indictment was completed on August 30, and sent to the court in early October, Trang’s representative Trinh Huu Long told RFA’s Vietnamese Service.

“This is a serious violation of legal procedures. It’s serious because responsible agencies detained Pham Doan Trang and kept her in complete isolation from outside information as well as denied her the right to legal access,” Long said.

Long said the prosecution had an unfair advantage in the case, because they have access to the investigation file and the full strength and resources of the legal system, while Trang has not been able to meet even with her family, let alone with lawyers with access to the indictment.

“I think these are serious and major violations in a criminal case,” said Long.

Lawyers are typically allowed to participate in a case only after the investigation is complete, Dang Dinh Manh, one of Trang’s lawyers, told RFA.

“Therefore, we can only do registration procedures to be defense lawyers at the procuracy’s prosecution stage. We submitted our registrations in early September,” said Manh.

“However, we recently received a notice from the procuracy saying they had already sent the file to the court as well as completed their indictment."

"They also said that they could not grant the permits for us to work as defense lawyers as they no longer kept the file. We had no choice but to register ourselves again with the court, and so far we haven’t heard back,” he said.

Manh said that without a permit defense lawyers would not be able to access the indictment or visit with Trang to provide legal advice.

Trang was a cofounder of Legal Initiatives for Vietnam, a California-based NGO that says its mission is “to build a democratic society in Vietnam through independent journalism, research, and education.”

The group condemned the Vietnamese government in a statement for “continuously harassing” Trang on the one-year anniversary of her arrest.

“Her arrest and detention was a flagrant violation of the freedom of expression. Speaking more broadly, this is an attack on press freedom and independent journalism,” the statement said.

The group called on its supporters to demand Trang’s immediate release.