Vietnam Worse Than Syria in Jailing Reporters


Vietnam has made the top 10 list of countries that jail reporters for simply doing their job. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) Vietnam came in at fifth spot and along with Thailand was one of the two nations from Southeast Asia to make the list in 2013.

Eighteen journalists remained jailed in Vietnam since last year. Among them was Nguyen Van Hai, an outspoken blogger whose one-day trial, the CPJ said, was plagued with procedural irregularities.

In June, Hai began waging a hunger strike “after prison authorities tried to force him to sign an admission of guilt for the anti-state offenses for which he was convicted. He was placed in solitary confinement when he refused to sign the confession.”

Topping the list was Turkey with 40 arrests, followed by Iran with 35, China on 32 and Eritrea with 22 arrests. War-torn Syria, widely considered the most dangerous place on Earth for journalists, held sixth spot with 12 reporters behind bars.

“The census does not account for the dozens of reporters who have been abducted and are believed to be held by armed opposition groups. As of late 2013, about 30 journalists were missing in Syria,” Elana Beiser editorial director of the CPJ said.

Egypt, which has dominated international media coverage with its political convulsions, filled ninth place with five correspondents imprisoned. Azerbaijan, Ethiopia and Uzbekistan rounded out the top 10.

Another 14 countries, including Thailand, the United States, India, Italy and Rwanda, had one journalist each in jail.

In all, 211 journalists were in jail around the world, down from 232 in 2012, but the figure remains high and the second worst ever since the year 2000 –  when 81 reporters were held in jail.

“The number of journalists in prison globally decreased from a year earlier but remains close to historical highs,” Beiser said.

“Intolerant governments in Ankara, Tehran, and Beijing used mostly anti-state charges to silence a combined 107 critical reporters, bloggers, and editors. Turkey and Iran retained their distinctions as the worst and second worst jailers for two years in a row,” it said.

In Thailand, Somyot Prueksakasemsuk remains behind bars after a Bangkok criminal court sentenced him to 11 years in prison for news articles judges deemed insulting to Thai monarch Bhumibol Adulyadej that were published in the now-defunct Voice of Taksin, a highly partisan newsmagazine affiliated with the political group United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship.

It noted that Vietnam was holding 18 journalists, up from 14 a year earlier, as authorities intensified a crackdown on bloggers, who represent the country’s only independent press.

Importantly the CPJ report also added some sorely needed context on Vietnam and its thin-skinned government – which by its own admission has had serious issues with corruption.

Most Southeast Asian countries also have similar problems and additionally a growing and well organized political opposition. Malaysia, Thailand and Cambodia have all endured political turmoil over the last 12 months – but all pale when compared with Vietnam’s treatment of the media.

Luke Hunt can be followed on Twitter at @lukeanthonyhunt.

Little Helmsman
January 24, 2014 at 13:55

Amazing, so the Viet Cong have friends at the Diplomat for censoring comments I made critical of Viet Cong regime? Last time I checked I live in the US with protected 1st amendment right for free speech.

Here is a hint for Viet Cong friends at the Diplomat, free speech is a principle of a free society. Censoring critical views of VC regime is of a barbaric society like the kind VC run in Vietnam.

Make sure you let the Diplomat readers, contributors, commentators know that about your collusion with VC regime and its atrocious human rights record.

Robert Dodge
January 23, 2014 at 03:46

I traveled extensively throughout Vietnam while working on my book. Vietnam40YearsLater(dot)com, and have witnessed the remarkable economic progress. It is so disheartening to see the country take big steps backward in political and human rights developments.

January 22, 2014 at 23:39

Vietnam jails journalists and acts like evil China and Russia?

Does not matter! Vietnam is the USA’s new friend. The journalists who portray the USA’s new friend in a bad light should be investigated by the NSA for their obvious Chinese/Russian allegiance!


mark durian
January 22, 2014 at 19:46

How does CPJ define “reporters”, ” journalists”? Anyone with a PC connected to a server? These are political dissenters and not all dissenters are democracy activists!
So, how does this report suppose to help Vietnam improve governance? Support anyone with anti-government view?

Kangmin Zheng
January 22, 2014 at 06:42

VN Red Communist elite members learn well from Red China to jail reporters.

January 21, 2014 at 16:12

And how many in Thailand under crimes of majesté ?
Hundreds or thousands ?

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