A few days ahead of United States President Joe Biden’s state visit to Vietnam, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) urges him to address the dire situation of press freedom and the right to information in the country.
In a joint letter submitted to the White House on September 5, RSF and seven other human rights organizations, including Viet Tan, called on US President Joe Biden to address the dire state of press freedom and the right to information in Vietnam during his state visit to the country, scheduled for September 10.
Although press freedom is enshrined in Article 25 of Vietnam’s Constitution, the regime has stepped up its crackdown on journalists and press freedom defenders in recent years. Harsh prison sentences have systematically been pronounced against independent journalists such as Pham Doan Trang, 2019 RSF Press Freedom Prize laureate who was sentenced to nine years in prison in 2021 for spreading so-called “anti-state propaganda.”
In Vietnam, jailed journalists are almost systematically subjected to mistreatment and denied medical care. On August 2, 2022, political commentator Do Cuong Dongdied in detention at the age of 58, as a result of the mistreatment he had been subjected to since his arrest. More recently, in August 2023, the family of freelance reporter Le Huu Minh Tuan, who was sentenced in 2021 to 11 years in prison, revealed he is suffering from a severe scabies infection.
“As one of Vietnam’s major economic partners, the US should address the systematic violations of press freedom and the right to information perpetrated by the regime. We urge President Biden to step up pressure on the Vietnamese authorities to obtain the release of all 41 journalists and press freedom defenders detained in the country.
Vietnam ranks 178th out of 180 in the 2023 Reporters Without Borders (RSF) Press Freedom Index, its lowest position since the release of this index in 2002.