Congressman Lowenthal, House Colleagues, Urge Magnitsky
Sanctions Against Vietnamese Police Who Tortured Journalist
Congressman Alan Lowenthal
December 18, 2020
Congressman Alan Lowenthal (CA-47), co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on
Vietnam, today joined with seven House colleagues in urging the U.S. State and
Treasury departments to implement Global Magnitsky sanctions against eight
members of the Ha Tinh Province police force in Vietnam who tortured journalist
Nguyen Van Hoa. The Magnitsky Act provides for U.S. financial and travel
restriction sanctions against international human rights abusers.
In a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven
Mnuchin, the Members state, “We write to express our concern about the ongoing
intimidation, pressure, and arrest of journalists, independent media, and the
free press in the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. We are specifically concerned
with the arrest and sentencing of journalist Nguyen Van Hoa, a contributor to
Radio Free Asia (RFA), a part of the U.S. Agency for Global Media.”
In 2017, Vietnamese authorities arrested and sentenced Vietnamese citizen Nguyen
to prison on charges of “propagandizing” against the state. Vietnamese
authorities had previously beaten and confiscated Nguyen’s equipment while he
was on assignment for RFA in November 2016. While he was in police custody, Van
Hoa was beaten, tortured, and forced to sign a false confession against his
fellow prisoner. In November 2020, Nguyen launched a hunger strike to protest
conditions at his detention camp.
The letter identifies eight members of the Ha Tinh Province police force who are
alleged to have beaten Van Hoa and hung him from the ceiling by his hands in
order to coerce a confession. The individuals named in the letter are: Colonel
Nguyen Anh Tuan, Captain Nguyen Van Sang, Lieutenant Le Anh Duc, Captain Tran
Anh Duc, Colonel Nguyen Huy Chuong, Major Truong Quang Quoc, First Lieutenant
Bui Xuan Dat, and Captain Nguyen Dinh Duc.
The Members’ letter concludes, “These individuals are complicit in direct human
rights violations. We believe that targeted sanctions will have an impact.
At a time when the Vietnamese government is seeking to expand access to both
American markets and American product, we must insist on strong protections for
human rights and the rule of law. Unfortunately, this incident and others
indicate that Vietnam has become less tolerant of dissent in recent years. The
United States must send a clear message that increased trade and economic growth
will not come at the price of democracy and freedom.”
The letter is cosigned by House Members Lou Correa (CA-46), Deb Haaland (NM-01),
Ro Khanna (CA-17), Barbara Lee (CA-13), James P. McGovern (MA-02), Katie Porter
(CA-45), and Harley Rouda (CA-48).
To read the full text of the letter,
Congressman Lowenthal, an executive committee member of the Tom Lantos Human
Rights Commission, has previously advocated for the release of Van Hoa, writing
letters to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo calling for U.S. government action in
the case, and Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc calling for the release
of Van Hoa. In September, Congressman Lowenthal officially adopted Van Hoa as a
prisoner of conscience through the commission’s Defending Freedoms Project.
Under the Defending Freedoms Project, Congress Members seek the release or
reduction of a prison sentence or the improvement of prison conditions for their
adoptees, while also raising awareness about the unjust laws or policies that
led to imprisonment. Due in part to Congressman Lowenthal’s advocacy since
joining the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission in 2013, three of the prisoners
of conscience he has adopted have been released.