The current situation of the Prisoner of Conscience Pastor Nguyễn Công Chính

(Pastor Nguyen Cong Chinh was in the appeal court)

Pastor Nguyễn Công Chính was arrested and detained on April 28th, 2011 by the security police in Gia Lai. Pastor Chính was subsequently prosecuted according to Article 87 of the Vietnamese Code of Criminal Procedure, accused of “Acts of sabotage on the national unity”. On the 26th of March 2012, the tribunal of Gia Lai city has sentenced Pastor Chính to 11 years of prison, after a court hearing without a defense lawyer. Then on the 31st of July, the Highest Court confirmed and passed on the 11 years sentence to the pastor although in the presence of his defense lawyer, but after a summary trial that lasted for no more than 2 hours.18 months have passed since the day of his arrest in April 2011, and his wife, Mrs Trần Thị Hồng, has not been allowed once to see her husband. Even now, when all matters of investigation, prosecution, and legal proceedings are over.

The Article 1 of Code 260 of the Vietnamese Criminal Prosecution Code, sets out clearly that:

“1. In the case of a defendant who is already in temporary detention, at the request of his/her family, the Security Police has to allowed visits to the defendant before any definitive incarceration. The management of the detention centre is under the obligation to indicate to the defendant’s family the prison where the defendant is to serve his sentence.”

The Article 1 of Code 46 of the Vietnamese Code of Criminal Procedure also sets out clearly that:

“1. The prisoner is allowed a visit from a relative once a month, each visit cannot last more than an hour, only on exceptional circumstances, a visit can be extended to no more than 3 hours.”

The above proves that currently the detention centre T20, managed by Gia Lai city Security Police is, in all intents and purposes, in breach of the Law, in carrying out the most inhumane treatments on detainees and violating their most fundamental human rights.

A summary biography of Pastor Nguyễn Công Chính:

Pastor Nguyễn Công Chính and family reside at residence group 10, Hoa Lư district of Pleiku, under Gia Lai City administration. Before his arrest, he held office as the leader of the christian congregation of the Vietnamese-American Lutheran Church. All through 2003 and right up to the day of his arrest (April 28, 2011), pastor Nguyễn Công Chính and his family were subjected to permanent terror threats from the local police.

(Pastor Chinh and his family before he was arrested)

Twice in Sept. ’03 and once in Jan. ’04, the private chapel of the Protestant Church in Kontum which was under Pastor Chính’s direction and was also his home, was badly damaged and finally demolished by the local Security Police bulldozer. All of the personal and identity papers of Pastor Chính and of his family members were seized by the police. And since, his son a last child was born without the possibility of getting a birth certificate. Wherever he tried to rent a place to live, the local police would pressurize the landlord to expel him and his family.

At first he belonged to the Mennonites Congregation, another branch of the Protestant Church . He had to change at least three times the name of his congregation, before his arrest as the Pastor leader of the Christian Congregation of the Vietnamese-American Lutheran Church. Wherever he lived, his home came under constant surveillance night and day by the local police, the family also came under harassment from the police throwing rocks on their roof or dumping excrement though their front door.

Being of a religious organisation that refuses to comply with the State system of nationalized religions, Pastor Chính has been accused by the State of “criminal activities hiding behind the religious facade” in similar manners as other churches and religions (Christians, Buddhists, Hoahaoists) have suffered .

In 2009, the Vietnamese Human Rights Network has nominated Pastor Nguyễn Công Chính for their annual Human Rights Award.

Mrs Trần Thị Hồng is his wife and mother of his children. Contact telephone: 01264973204