PLEA FOR HELP LETTER
FROM: Nguyen Tri Dung, prisoner Nguyen Van Hai’s son and Duong Thi Tan, Nguyen Van Hai’s ex-wife, mother of Nguyen Tri Dung.
TO: – International Embassies in Hanoi.
– International Organizations on Human Rights
Saigon, 29 April 2013
Today, 29 April 2013, we submitted our letter of complaint on the suppression of and discrimination against Mr Nguyen Van Hai in prison to the various Vietnamese authorities. Up to now, though he has been through 9 prison camps, our family is still being obstructed by Xuyen Moc prison officers from exercising the right to visit and feed prisoners through every possible means, and Mr Nguyen Van Hai continued to be discriminated against and under solitary confinement in the camp.
The continued obstruction of and infringement upon Nguyen Van Hai’s legitimate rights as presently conducted by officers in Xuyen Moc prison mean to disregard all international community’s concerns, violate the Vietnamese law itself, and defy those human rights that are prescribed in human rights and anti-discrimination commitments that Vietnam has pledged to abide by. We are extremely disappointed that those complaints and wrong-doing denouncement that we have made during the past 5 long years are meaningless. The authorities have been willing to repeatedly remove him to more and more remote prison camps, creating difficulties and losses for his relatives, maltreating him, making way for continued violations and avoiding to deal with our complaints and denouncements.
We are extremely concerned that these violations of the law will continue while his imprisonment sentence lasts 12 years.
We insist that governments and international human rights NGOs voice their concerns to demand that the Vietnamese authorities put an end to violations of the law, discrimination, spirit suppression, restriction of healthcare service concerning Mr Nguyen Van Hai’s imprisonment.
Nguyen Tri Dung and Duong Thi Tan
Socialist Republic of Vietnam
Independence – Freedom – Happiness
HCMC, 29 April 2013
LETTER OF COMPLAINT
TO: Superintendent of Prison Camp T345, Xuyen Moc, Ba Ria-Vung Tau province
SUB.: Illegal acts and abuses of powers to infringe upon legitimate rights and interests of a prisoner and his relatives who visit and feed him by officers in charge of Sub-Camp K3 (Camp T345), Xuyen Moc, Ba Ria-Vung Tau province.
Nguyen Tri Dung, born 1986, ID No. 024208493, and Duong Thi Tan, born 1958, ID No. 023413252;
Permanent Residence Address: No. 57/31 Pham Ngoc Thach street, Ward 6, District 3, HCMC;
Both are relatives of prisoner Nguyen Van Hai, born 1952, who is executing his imprisonment sentence in Sub-Camp K3, Xuyen Moc, Ba Ria-Vung Tau province, on charge of “propagandizing against the State” as stipulated in Article 88 of the Penal Code.
II. Those who are complained:
Major Nguyen Ngoc Huu; Captain Pham Van Huyen; Master Sergeant Nguyen Van Quan. They are former officers in charge of receiving citizens and arranging visits for prisoners’ relatives at Sub-Camp K3, Xuyen Moc, Ba Ria-Vung Tau province
III. Contents of complaint
Violation of the deadline to inform a prisoner’s relatives of the admission of that prisoner:
On 7 February 2013, I (Nguyen Tri Dung) and my mother (Duong Thi Tan) went to Bo La Prison Camp (Binh Duong province) and was completely surprised to know that my father Nguyen Van Hai had been moved to Xuyen Moc Prison Camp (Ba Ria-Vung Tau province) on 1 February 2013. On 8 February 2013, my mother and I went to Xuyen Moc Camp, and it took us 2 hours here to know that my father Nguyen Van Hai was imprisoned at Sub-Camp K3. As late as on 2 February 2013, my family received a notice from Xuyen Moc Camp signed by Deputy Superintendent, Senior Lieutenant-Colonel Do Cong Vu, informing that “Mr Hai has come to Xuyen Moc Camp to execute his prison sentence and he has not paid the court fee of 400,000NVD yet.” While the notice was dated 1 February 2013, the envelope of the express mail service had a stamp dated 16 February 2013 on it. Thus, beside the unclearness of the date of the notice, there was a violation of the deadline to inform a prisoner’s relatives as prescribed in Clause 3 of Article 26 of the Law on Execution of Criminal Judgements. (Excerpt from Article 26 – Admission of persons sentenced to imprisonment: 3. Within 5 working days after admitting a sentenced person, the prison or detention camp or the criminal judgment execution agency of the district-level police office shall notify it to the court which has issued the judgment execution decision and to relatives of that person and report it to the criminal judgment execution management agency.)
On 28 April 2013, when my mother and I went to Xuyen Moc Prison Camp to visit my father after being obstructed many times for reason of “coming earlier than schedule,” we were informed briefly by an officer named Huyen that “Mr Hai has been moved to another camp.” That means once again my family travel up hill and down dale to the camp just to hear a sentence with a vague reason. Because when I demanded officer Huyen tell me which camp, he said, “I just know that our superior agency General Department No. 8 removed Mr Hai on 26, I don’t know where he’s been moved and have no responsibility to answer. There was an order to remove (him) and we did according to it, that’s all.” When I said, “Why there exists such a nonsense that an officer in charge of managing prisoners doesn’t inform a removed prisoner’s relatives before hand, and doesn’t know where that prisoner’s gone,” officer Huyen replied, “The family just go home and wait to see where he’s gone; whichever camp that has admitted him shall inform the family; here we have no responsibility to inform the family.” While we did not accept such a vague answer from officer Huyen, another officer named Huu came out and said, “Mr Hai was moved to Camp No. 6, and god knows where that camp is in this entire nation with nearly 60 camps, I can’t remember all of them. We simply did it according to order and have no responsibility to inform the family. Please go ahead with your complaining if there’s any violation.” Thus, once again my father’s whereabouts was almost completely lost at such a limitation of information, even minimum pieces of information that his relatives need to know have not been informed and made clear also.
Not issuing the camp’s regulations:
From his first days in prison camps, my father Nguyen Van Hai asked the officers, particularly Major Nguyen Ngoc Huu, provide him with the camp’s regulations. Up to now, he has asked for many times but still his requests haven’t been met. Not issuing the camp’s regulations for prisoners and instead only adopting verbal regulations is the most clear and primary wrong-doing that has led to a series of following violations.
Forcing prisoners to give up personal belongings:
On 8 February 2013, during the first visit by his family at Xuyen Moc Camp, officers of Sub-Camp K3 forced my father send home his personal belongings that had followed him for the past 5 years over 7 camps, particularly books, newspapers (Tuoi Tre, Thanh Nien, Phap Luat), blankets, towels, clothes, unwritten note-books, ball-point pens. The reason was that, “There are necessary things in the camp.” It is worth mentioning here that the officers of Sub-Camp K3 did not let my father “deposit in the camp” as stipulated in Item (a) of Clause 2 of Article 26 of the Law on Execution of Criminal Judgements concerning unused personal belongings. Also, they failed to explain reasonably that these things are classified in lists of things that are banned from bringing into the camp as stipulated in Item (c) of Clause 2 of Article 26 of the Law on Execution of Criminal Judgements. Instead, they just insisted that he must send these things home or otherwise they would be confiscated.
Preventing relatives from sending newspapers:
Along with the above wrong-doing, my father’s relatives were drastically prohibited from sending newspapers to him. The officers of Sub-Camp K3 in Xuyen Moc, particularly Captain Pham Van Huyen, would exclude newspapers from those things to be supplied to my father and scratched the item named newspaper off the declaration list of gifts right at the reception desk without receiving for examination or explaining for my father’s relatives that Thanh Nien, Tuoi Tre and Nguoi Lao Dong newspapers are in which ban lists that the Ministry of Public Security and the Ministry of National Defense have issued. Officer Huyen would say that “there are enough books, novels, and newspapers in the camp so there’s no need to send more.” These words have been cleared during the visit of 24 March 2013. My father asserted that there had been no books, novels or newspapers except 3 issues of the People’s daily which he had been distributed from the day he first came to the camp (nearly two months ago). Moreover, they cannot take one thing that relates to the camp’s regulations (the availability of books, newspapers, libraries) as a reason for restricting another thing that relates to regulations on the supplying and receiving gifts of prisoners (which have been stipulated separately by law). Also in this visit of 24 March 2013, my father rejected Major Nguyen Ngoc Huu, “There’s no camp, no law prohibiting prisoners from reading Thanh Nien or Tuoi Tre newspapers.” Officer Huu replied, “Also there’s no law requesting us to allow you reading newspapers. You can make a complaint.” Officer Huu’s answers was indeficient of legal knowledge and showed signs of abusing his power to infringe upon legitimate interests of executers of sentence, particularly Clause 2 of Article 46 of the Law on Execution of Criminal Judgements: …“inmates may receive letters, cash and articles, except those on the ban list.”
To prohibit a prison’s relatives from supplying whatever newspapers and ban a prisoner from reading any newspapers in the camp except the People’s daily without examining and producing legitimate reasons are violations of a series of the State’s policies on the rights of executers of sentence as prescribed many times and repeatedly in Clauses 1 & 2 of Article 28 and Clauses 1 & 2 of Article 44 of the Law on Execution of Criminal Judgements; and Clause 3 of Article 12 of Decree No. 117/2011/NĐ-CP dated 15 December 2011 of the Government.
Right from his first day in the camp on 1 February 2013, my father Nguyen Van Hai has been confined in an isolated cell area by the officers of Sub-Camp K3 in Xuyen Moc. Despite his many objections, until our latest visit of 24 March 2013, still he informed his family that the condition of solitary confinement has not been changed at all. According to officer Huu, “This is not solitary confinement but separate confinement, because there’s only one left here of the type of political prisoners like Mr Hai.” And he cited Clause 4 of Article 27 of the Law on Execution of Criminal Judgements to defend the rights of the camp to classify inmates and to “confine separately”. Once again, Major Nguyen Ngoc Huu showed his lack of legal knowledge, being unqualified to be an officer in charge of receiving citizens and arranging visits for prisoners’ relatives. If he was qualified and well-informed of legal knowledge then the act of intentionally citing the law to conceal the rights of prisoners is the abuse of power to seriously infringe upon legitimate rights and interests of executers of sentence as prescribed in Clause 2 of Article 27 of the Law on Execution of Criminal Judgements:
Only “2. … the following inmates shall be held separately:
a) Female inmates;
b) Minor inmates;
c) Foreign inmates;
d) Inmates with extremely dangerous infectious diseases;
e) Inmates showing signs of suffering a mental disease or another disease that deprives them of perception or act control capacity pending a court decision;
f) Inmates who repeatedly violate detention regulations.
And Clause 2 of Article 9 of Decree No. 117/2011/NĐ-CP dated 15 December 2011 prescribes that: “2. Inmates are allowed to live in collective confinement rooms, except those cases that are prescribed in points d, đ and e of Clause 2 of Article 27 of the Law on Execution of Criminal Judgements. The sleeping place of an inmate is 2m2, with enamelled tile platform, floorboard or bed…”
Citing the law ambiguously and (intentionally) showing lack of legal knowledge in order to ignore legitimate rights of inmates by the officers of Sub-Camp K3 in Xuyen Moc constitute a serious violation of the law, when they used the rights to “classify and remove inmates” to justify my father’s solitary confinement during the past three months. All articles of the Law on Execution of Criminal Judgements and relevant decrees with regulations on “the rights to classify and remove inmates” have no sentence or word allowing the officers to confine solitarily or “separately” in order to classify inmates. Those cases that must be confined solitarily or “separately” have been prescribed separately and clearly in Clause 2 of Article 27 of the Law on Execution of Criminal Judgements. Subsequently, it has been supplemented and made more clear by Article 9 of Decree No. 117/2011/NĐ-CP as cited above.
Limiting visit time duration:
In all the times visiting my father at Sub-Camp K3 in Xuyen Moc, there has been only once that I was allowed to meet him more than 15 minutes, the remaining times lasted just 10 minutes or less each. When my father and I voiced our objections, officer Pham Van Huyen said, “Every month, inmates are allowed to meet their relatives once, with no more than 1 hour once. So, depending on the visit situation, we arrange for them to meet from 1 minute to no more than 60 minutes. Under 1 hour is not a breach whatsoever.” Thus, with the Law on Execution of Criminal Judgements falling short of specific regulations of minimum visit time, and the camp not providing specific regulations on visit duration, the officers in charge of Sub-Camp K3 in Xuyen Moc have been taking advantage of these deficiencies to limit the meeting time of my father and his relatives.
Other regulations for the benefits of inmates have been cancelled without reasons:
When delivering his or her criminal sentence, beside regulations on collective detention, learning, culture, literature, sports, reading, watching news on televisions, listening to radios, every inmate sill enjoys those regulations that allow him or her to “send letters twice a month and make a telephone call once a month with no more than 5 minutes each time” as prescribed in Article 47 of the Law on Execution of Criminal Judgements. Faced with my queries about these issues, those officers who are in charge of receiving citizens have all ignored and failed to produce an answer.
My father Nguyen Van Hai has been suffering a health problem that his spinal column’s nerves are obstructed, this has led to his leg tendon strain and made him painful every time he moves. Understanding that his body is abnormal, my father has informed the officers of the camp many times that “taking those medicine pills distributed by the camp has made no progress.” But, up to now, my family hasn’t received any notice from the camp about taking my father to hospital for diagnosis and treatment in accordance with Clause 2 of Article 48 of the Law on Execution of Criminal Judgements: “Sick or injured inmates shall be examined and treated at health stations of their prisons or detention camps or at district-level medical treatment centers. An inmate who suffers a serious disease or an injury beyond the treatment capability of these establishments shall be transferred to a provincial-level medical treatment establishment, a military hospital or a central hospital for treatment. Prisons, detention camps and criminal judgment execution agencies of district-level police offices shall notify relatives of inmates or their lawful representatives for joining in treating and caring for such inmates.”
Officers in charge of receiving citizens are unqualified, irresponsible, abusing power, and offending citizens’ dignities:
On 24 March 2013, my mother Duong Thi Tan asked Major Pham Van Huyen, who was on duty to receive citizens, to answer on how to meet my father according to supplementary Article 46 which took effect from 1 July 2011. He answered, “Let’s deal with it later.” Once my mother demanded him, after arranging visits, that he guide and answer relevant matters, he said “who are you that dares to request me?” After the visits were over, this officer did not go to the receptionist desk again but let another officer, Master Sergeant Nguyen Van Quan, be on duty instead. My mother asked him to consult her on “whether the visiting day earlier or later than schedule is OK?” He said, “As long as the visit time is once a month, earlier or later than schedule are both OK.” With these guides in mind, my mother and I went to the camp to visit and feed my father on 21 April 2014, but the officers directly receiving citizens, Captain Pham Van Huyen and Major Nguyen Ngoc Huu (who had put his name badge in his pocket), said that “We do not accept the visit because the date of 24 April hasn’t come yet.” Feeling extremely angry, my mother said that she had been instructed by officer Quan, but the two officers continued, “Who is Quan? Quan has no responsibility to answer.” Curbing her anger, my mother continued to asked officer Huyen explain the procedures to visit my father, but he said, “I don’t receive you, you have no citizen rights here!” Taking side with officer Huyen, officer Huu also said, “When he was imprisoned, you divorced him. Now you come here demanding to visit him” and called 6 uniformed officers without name badges to come over by motorbikes and ordered, “Get them out of the working area!” When I objected, “This is a violation of the law,” Huu said, “please go ahead with your complaint.” Thus, in two days of 24 March and 21 April 2013, the officers in charge of receiving citizens at Sub-Camp K3 (of Camp T345 in Xuyen Moc) did a series of serious wrong-doings that at least an officer in charge of receiving citizens has to avoid, in particular (i) the officers here did not bear name badges and used another officer without the responsibility to receive citizens and answers their queries, causing loss of time and money to those who came to see their imprisoned relatives; (ii) the two officers named Huyen and Huu, as officers in charge of receiving citizens, used the words “who are you that dares to request me?”, regardless of the rights to request answers and instructions of my mother Duong Thi Tan, a person with every citizen rights; (iii) hurting other’s honour and dignity when officer Huu had a wrong statement a bout the private life of my mother before a crowd; (iv) going beyond their authorities to declare in the name of court that “you are not a citizen” and order 6 uniformed officers “get them out of this working place.”
IV. Our requests
1) To investigate and verify 8 contents that I have raised above before replying in printed documents;
2) To put an end to violations of the law, restoring legitimate rights and policies as prescribed by the law for Mr Nguyen Van Hai and his relatives, particularly:
- The right to know the camp’s regulations for an executer of sentence and his relatives (2), (6);
- The right to read books and newspapers, to study, to disseminate legal knowledge and to be informed of the current affairs (3), (4);
- Sub-Camp K3 in Xuyen Moc rightly caries out confinement regulations in accordance with the Law on Execution of Criminal Judgements together with other supplementary legal documents that are relevant (5);
- To carry out the policy on phone communications and monthly letters sending as prescribed in the Law on Execution of Criminal Judgements (7);
- To ensure the implementation of healthcare regulations as prescribed by the law;
- The right to ask on-duty officers in charge of receiving citizens answer (8);
3) To apply satisfactory handling of the wrong-doings by those officers who are in charge of receiving citizens at Sub-Camp K3 (Camp T345) in Xuyen Moc, Ba Ria-Vung Tau.
I pledge that those pieces of information that I raise in 8 contents of complaint above is true and take responsibility before the law;
Those wrong-doings in the arrangements for visiting and feeding inmates, consulting laws, and the limitation of the most basic rights have caused lots of difficulties for his relatives who visit and feed my father Nguyen Van Hai and for he himself. Financial losses can be recovered, but damages of time, health, spirit, and confidence in the law are all hard to recover. Those words, manners, violations of the law by those uniformed officers who have been in charge of receiving citizens at Sub-Camp K3 in Xuyen Moc are systematic, and the irresponsible bureaucracy here has become so familiar that the officers would confidently ask me to go ahead with my complaint. I expect these wrong-doings are soon reviewed and resolved, firstly, to return legitimate rights to Mr Nguyen Van Hai and those relatives of his that have been visiting and feeding him, and secondly, to keep the face of those who are representatives of the law at Sub-Camp K3 in particular and of our country in general.
Nguyen Tri Dung and Duong Thi Tan
(Defend the Defenders)