United Nations demands halt to imminent Vietnam execution


Nguyen Van Chuong’s father displays pictures of the inmate during an interview in Hai Duong in 2018. - AFP

GENEVA/HANOI (AFP): The United Nations called on Vietnamese authorities Friday to immediately halt the looming execution of a man, whose murder conviction came after allegations of torture and fair trial violations.

The UN human rights office expressed alarm at reports that the execution of Nguyen Van Chuong, who has maintained his innocence in the murder 16 years ago of a police officer, was "imminent".

"We call on the authorities to immediately halt the execution, and to carry out an independent and impartial investigation into the allegations of torture," spokesman Jeremy Laurence said in a statement.

Chuong was arrested three weeks after the police officer's murder on July 14, 2007.

"Nguyen Van Chuong has consistently maintained his innocence and asserted that the police obtained his confession through torture," Laurence said, pointing out that the confession was reportedly admitted as evidence and used to convict him.

"The use of confessions extracted under torture that results in a death sentence violates both the absolute prohibition of torture as well as fair trial guarantees," he stressed.

Chuong's sentence should therefore be considered "arbitrary and a violation of the right to life" under international law, he added.

Chuong's family received a notice from the People's Court of Hai Phong on August 4 informing them of the court's decision to proceed with the execution, but no execution date or other details were shared, the rights office said.

It lamented that despite a global trend towards abolishing capital punishment, Vietnam continues to use the death penalty, largely in secret.

"We urge the Government to immediately establish an official moratorium on all executions with a view to fully abolishing the death penalty," Laurence said.

In the meantime, he reminded the authorities that "sufficient transparency and full respect for the rights of prisoners and their families is a minimum requirement for governments that have not yet abolished capital punishment."

"Essential information relevant to a specific planned execution should be promptly provided to the prisoner and to their family, while information regarding death sentences, notifications and executions should also be made publicly available." - AFP

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