Pham Doan Trang, co-founder and co-editor for The Vietnamese Magazine and Luat Khoa narrates her ordeal as she is constantly harassed by the government. According to Civicus, Vietnam “presented a grossly inaccurate picture of its human rights record” and the repression in the country has been severe.


In January 2019, Vietnam’s human rights record was reviewed at the UN Human Rights Council. In July 2018, CIVICUS together with Civil Society Forum, Human Rights Foundation (HRF), VOICE and VOICE Vietnam had made a submission to the Council assessing the civic space situation in the country. The government received 291 recommendations during the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) with at least 37 recommendation related to civic space.

According to civil society, Vietnam “presented a grossly inaccurate picture of its human rights record” at the UPR and that the repression in the country has been severe. According to The 88 Project, there was an increase in the number of activists arrested and tried in 2018. 103 people were arrested for their peaceful political activities, up from 43 in 2017. As of December 2018, there were 210 political prisoners serving sentences in Vietnam. 2018 also saw intensified harassment of peaceful protesters as well as daily surveillance, travel restrictions, and physical assaults of activists.

Harassment and intimidation of activist
Outrageous #Vietnam government harassment & rights abuse continue against journalist Pham Doan Trang. #Hanoi again criminalizing critical thought and expression, showing why it's among the worst dictatorships in #ASEAN. @hrw @MOFAVietNam @PressDept_MoFA March 19, 2019

On 18th March 2019, activist and journalist Pham Doan Trang reported that the secret police was undertaking surveillance of her home. Pham is a member of the Vietnamese Magazine editorial board and a founding member of our Vietnamese site, Luat Khoa online magazine.

According to Pham, since the Tet celebration in February 2019, the secret police began to monitor the home of her mother in Hanoi. Pham believes that the police were waiting for her to go back and visit her family during the celebration so that they could arrest her.

However, because she did not go back to Hanoi, the secret police subsequently used different methods to locate her whereabouts. Hackers have also attempted to gain access to Pham’s Facebook on numerous occasions.

As previously documented, in February 2018, Pham Doan Trang went into hiding after she was interrogated by security officials for over ten hours. She was questioned about a textbook she recently published as well as her news articles and blog posts on topics ranging from the environment, freedom of religion and online civil society. In November 2017 she was detained after meeting with the EU delegation in Vietnam.