Taz talks about press freedom in Vietnam as multi-awarded journalist and human rights defender Pham Doan Trang gets jail term.


Prominent human rights activist and journalist Pham Doan Trang has been sentenced to nine years in prison by a court in Vietnam. The judiciary had accused the author, who has won European human rights awards, of “propaganda against the state”. The verdict was announced on Tuesday.

Despite decades of openness to foreign investment, the communist country strictly censors the domestic media and is intolerant of those who think differently. Vietnam ranks 175th out of 180 countries in Reporters Without Borders' press freedom rankings.

The 43-year-old was arrested in Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) in October 2020 and taken to the capital Hanoi. According to human rights groups, she was held in pre-trial detention for more than a year without access to a lawyer.

She has written countless articles, blogs and books on politics, social justice and human rights. She is also the founder of the online magazine Luât Khoa and editor at the online magazine The Vietnamese.

Convicted in Vietnam, awarded several times abroad

On Monday, the human rights organization Human Rights Watch (HRW) called for all criminal charges against Trang to be dropped and for her immediate release. "The trial against her and the abusive treatment of her violate the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Vietnam ratified in 1982," it said in a statement.

The Czech human rights organization People in Need Trang had already awarded the “Homo Homini Prize” in 2017, and in 2019 it received the “Press Freedom Award” from Reporters Without Borders in Berlin for particularly effective journalism.