The UN human rights office, OHCHR, has expressed grave concern over the recent arrests and convictions of human rights defenders advocating for clean energy reforms in Vietnam. Hoang Thi Minh Hong, a renowned climate activist and former employee of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), was sentenced to three years in prison and fined $4,100 for tax evasion. Her trial lasted only three hours, with limited access to family and defense counsel throughout her detention. Independent human rights experts suggest that the charges against her may have been politically motivated.
Hong is the fifth out of six environmental human rights defenders arrested since 2021 to be convicted. Four other advocates have faced similar charges and received prison sentences of up to five years. The situation indicates a wider crackdown on environmental rights advocates in Vietnam.
The UN’s OHCHR has expressed concern about the lack of due process and the potential political motivations behind these arrests and convictions. The organization calls on the Vietnamese government to ensure fair and transparent legal proceedings, respect the rights of human rights defenders, and uphold freedom of expression and association.