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Torture by Police, Forced Disappearance

& Other Ill Treatment

In the early years of the 21st Century, 2000 to 2025                                    

Socialist Republic of Vietnam

There is little protection from the illegitimate use of force by state authorities, and police are known to abuse suspects and prisoners, sometimes resulting in death or serious injury. Prison conditions are poor.

  [Freedom House Country Report, 2020]

Description: Description: Description: Description: Vietnam

CAUTION:  The following links have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Vietnam.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated or even false.  No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspects of Torture by Authorities are of particular interest to you.  You might be interested in exploring the moral justification for inflicting pain or inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment in order to obtain critical information that may save countless lives, or to elicit a confession for a criminal act, or to punish someone to teach him a lesson outside of the courtroom.  Perhaps your paper might focus on some of the methods of torture, like fear, extreme temperatures, starvation, thirst, sleep deprivation, suffocation, or immersion in freezing water.  On the other hand, you might choose to write about the people acting in an official capacity who perpetrate such cruelty.  There is a lot to the subject of Torture by Authorities.  Scan other countries as well as this one.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.

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2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Vietnam

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, 30 March 2021

[accessed 12 August 2021]


Activists reported Ministry of Public Security officials assaulted political prisoners to extract confessions or used other means to induce written confessions, including instructing fellow prisoners to assault them or making promises of better treatment. Abusive treatment was not limited to activists or persons involved in politics. Human rights monitoring groups issued multiple reports of police using excessive force while on duty and investigators allegedly torturing detainees.

One of the Dong Tam villagers who was detained and then released following the January 9 clash with police (see section 1.a.) alleged that Ministry of Public Security interrogators tortured many of the 29 defendants by a variety of methods, including electric shock, cigarette burns to various parts of the body, waterboarding, and other methods that would not leave physical evidence.


Prison conditions varied substantially by prison and province. In most cases they were austere but generally not life threatening. Insufficient diet and unclean food, overcrowding, lack of access to potable water, and poor sanitation remained serious problems.

Authorities placed prisoners in solitary confinement for standard periods of three months.


Pretrial Detention: The allowable time for temporary detention during an investigation varies from three to 16 months, depending on the offense. There were no standard legal or administrative requirements as to when suspects must be brought before a judicial officer. Depending on the seriousness and nature of the offenses, these time limits vary. In cases of particularly serious crimes, including national security cases, the law allows detention “until the completion of the investigation.”

Prison conditions varied substantially by prison and province. In most cases they were austere but generally not life threatening. Insufficient diet and unclean food, overcrowding, lack of access to potable water, and poor sanitation remained serious problems.

Vietnam Publisher Recovering From Torture, Daughter Released

Radio Free Asia RFA, 18 May 2020

[accessed 19 May 2020]

A Vietnamese man arrested and beaten by police for delivering books from a publishing house targeted by authorities for putting out proscribed political books is recovering and his daughter has been released, a writer from the group told RFA on Monday.

“While in custody, Thuy Tuat was interrogated and brutally tortured, including punching in the face, chest, ribs and stomach by police from 9am to 3am the following day. Upon release, despite having serious injuries, Thuy Tuat went directly into hiding fearing that police might re-arrest him,” Amnesty said in a letter to the prime minster.

Freedom House Country Report

2020 Edition

[accessed 16 May 2020]


There is little protection from the illegitimate use of force by state authorities, and police are known to abuse suspects and prisoners, sometimes resulting in death or serious injury. Prison conditions are poor. In May 2019, Amnesty International reported that Nguyễn Văn Hoá, a former Radio Free Asia blogger serving a seven-year jail sentence for reporting on protests over a toxic waste spill, had been tortured in prison.

Concluding observations on the seventh periodic report of Viet Nam

Committee against Torture, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner of Human Rights OHCHR, 14 November 2018

[accessed 8 December 2018]

DEFINITION AND CRIMINALIZATION OF TORTURE IN NATIONAL LEGISLATION -- 6. While noting that the right not to be subjected to torture and various offences such as applying corporal punishment and obtainment of testimony by duress that amount to torture are enshrined in the Constitution and other domestic laws, the Committee is concerned that the State party’s criminal legislation, and in particular the amended Criminal Code, do not criminalize  torture  in  a  separate  provision  specifically  prohibiting  this  crime.  It  is  also concerned  at  the  absence  of  a  definition  of  torture in  national  legislation.  In  addition,  the Committee is concerned at reports that committing acts of torture at the instigation of or with 3 the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity, as outlined in article 1 of the Convention, is not covered adequately in the laws of the State party (arts. 1, 2 and 4).

New report shows horrors faced by Vietnam’s political prisoners

Logan Connor, Southeast Asia Globe, 13 July 2016

[accessed 3 August 2016]

[accessed 3 August 2016]

A former prisoner featured in the report, named as Lu, was allegedly tortured every day for four consecutive months. The report says guards regularly beat him until he fell unconscious and forced him to consume food that had been left uneaten by a dog.

“On one occasion, pens were placed between his fingers and his hands were twisted around, causing excruciating pain,” the report says. “On another, the legs of a table were placed on his toes and police put all their body weight on the table resulting in unbearable pain and causing his toes to bleed”.

Amnesty says in its report, which describes isolation as a primary method of torture, that it has documented a number of cases involving the use of solitary confinement for prolonged periods.

Dar, the pseudonym of an ethnic Montagnard who spent the first ten months of his sentence in solitary confinement, told Amnesty researchers that police taunted him with threats that he would never leave the blackened cell.

“When they arrested me they threw me into a dark cell for ten months… They told me that this was all for my crimes but all I had done was demonstrate, to ask for freedom, land rights and religious equality,” he said. “They told me that I would die in prison, that I would die in that cell and my family would never know.”

UN experts urge Viet Nam to stop persecution and torture of religious leaders

Peter Kenny, Ecumenical News, Geneva, 3 June 2016

[accessed 8 August 2016]

U.N human rights experts have called on Viet Nam to stop persecuting and torturing Tran Thi Hong, who has been repeatedly arrested for informing the international community of human rights violations against her husband, who is in prison for peaceful religious activities.

Tran, spouse of imprisoned Pastor Nguyen Cong Chinh, was initially arrested on April 14, 2016.   She was tortured and warned to stop her activities promoting freedom of religion.   Since then, Tran Thi Hong has been repeatedly arrested and harassed by the authorities, who are trying to force her to 'cooperate' with the government.

"We are concerned that the repeated arrests and the continuing detention of Ms. Tran resulted from her peaceful human rights work and exercise of her fundamental rights, which constitutes arbitrary detention," the experts said calling for her unconditional release.

Human Rights Watch World Report 2015 - Events of 2014

Human Rights Watch, 29 January 2015 or

[accessed 18 March 2015]


ABUSES IN DETENTION AND PRISON - Police brutality, including deaths in police custody, are an increasing source of public concern in Vietnam. In 2014, even the heavily controlled state media frequently published reports about police abuse. In many cases, those killed in police custody were being held for minor infractions. Police frequently engaged in cover-ups, including by alleging the detainee’s suicide. Many detainees said they were beaten to extract confessions, sometimes for crimes they say they did not commit. Others said they were beaten for criticizing police officers or trying to reason with them. Victims of beatings included children.

HRW: Vietnam police abuse, torture

Bloomberg News, 16 September 2014

[accessed 19 September 2014]

Vietnamese police abuse and sometimes torture people in custody for crimes as minor as traffic violations and are rarely disciplined for a practice that has lead to deaths of detainees, Human Rights Watch said.

"We are revealing what is essentially a hidden human-rights crisis affecting the ordinary people of Vietnam," he said. "This is a report about farmers and businessmen and local merchants and students and others who ended up in police custody for activities that you and I would not consider to be out of the ordinary."  The cases of abuse documented in the report were compiled from news reports, social media and independent blogs and then cross-checked.

Vietnam: Torture and Abuse of Political and Religious Prisoners [PDF]

Sara Colm, Campaign to Abolish Torture in Vietnam, January 2014

[accessed 22 Jan 2014]

This report focuses on the systematic use of torture and other ill-treatment of people who have been detained or imprisoned in Vietnam for peacefully exercising their rights to expression, association, assembly, religion, or political asylum.

Law enforcement officials carry out torture and other abuses at each stage of a dissident’s arrest, detention, and imprisonment, with the harshest abuses taking place during pre-trial detention. The harsh and at times life-threatening conditions in Vietnam’s prisons and detention centers also amount to cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment, and in some cases to torture.

“They blindfolded me during interrogation and severely beat me with a rubber baton and kicked me in the kidneys with their boots until I was bleeding inside and blood was coming out of my mouth. My face was swollen and I could not walk. When I passed out, they poured water on me. Some days before I left the prison they stopped beating me in the face to let the swelling die down. “When I left, I had to be carried out of the prison.” —Vuong, a Vietnamese democracy activist arrested in Cambodia and forcibly returned to Vietnam, where he was imprisoned and tortured in An Giang Prison

“Sometimes they took my head and pushed it into water until I was unconscious. Two people held my arms on each side and pushed my head down.” —Buddhist monk Kim Muon, describing his torture during interrogation at Soc Trang Prison.

Torture in the Name of Treatment -- Human Rights Abuses in Vietnam, China, Cambodia, and Lao PDR

Human Rights Watch, 24 July 2012

[accessed 17 February 2013]

More than 350,000 people identified as drug users are held in compulsory drug "treatment" centers in China and Southeast Asia. Detainees are held without due process for periods of months or years and may be subjected to physical and sexual abuse, torture, and forced labor. International donors and UN agencies have supported and funded drug detention centers, while centers have systematically denied detainees access to evidence-based drug dependency treatment and HIV prevention services. "Torture in the Name of Treatment," summarizes Human Rights Watch’s findings over five years of research in China, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Lao PDR.


From an old article -- URL not available

Article was published sometime prior to 2015


Long prison terms were handed down to bloggers in an apparent attempt to silence others. They were charged with “conducting propaganda” and aiming to “overthrow” the government. Dissidents were held in lengthy pre-trial detention, often incommunicado and sometimes beyond the period allowed under Vietnamese law. Reports of beatings during interrogation emerged. Trials failed to meet international standards of fairness, with no presumption of innocence, lack of effective defence, and no opportunity to call witnesses. Families of defendants were harassed by local security forces, prevented from attending trials and sometimes lost their work and education opportunities.

Well-known popular bloggers Nguyen Van Hai, known as Dieu Cay, “Justice and Truth” blogger Ta Phong Tan, and Phan Thanh Hai, known as AnhBaSaiGon, were tried in September for “conducting propaganda” against the state. They were sentenced to 12, 10 and four years’ imprisonment respectively, with three to five years’ house arrest on release. The trial lasted only a few hours, and their families were harassed and detained to prevent them from attending. Their trial was postponed three times, the last time because the mother of Ta Phong Tan died after setting herself on fire outside government offices in protest at her daughter’s treatment. Phan Thanh Hai’s sentence was reduced by one year on appeal in December.

Environmental activist and blogger Dinh Dang Dinh, was sentenced to six years’ imprisonment in August after a three-hour trial. He was charged with “conducting propaganda” against the state for initiating a petition against bauxite mining in the Central Highlands. His wife reported that he was in poor health and had been beaten by prison officers.


Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 17 February 2013]

[accessed 7 July 2019]

TORTURE AND OTHER CRUEL, INHUMAN, OR DEGRADING TREATMENT OR PUNISHMENT – The law prohibits physical abuse; however, police sometimes physically mistreated suspects while arresting them or holding them in custody. In mid‑September local officials in the central highland province of Gia Lai reportedly beat two ethnic Dao Protestants, who were subsequently hospitalized for five days. Provincial government authorities reportedly were investigating the incident, but at year's end no official had been reprimanded. As in previous years, a small number of allegations were made that police, particularly in the Northwest Highlands, beat suspects, mainly ethnic minority Protestants, to the point of unconsciousness while also forcing them to perform acts against their religious beliefs such as consuming alcohol. However, other sources were not able to verify or confirm these allegations.

Freedom House Country Report - Political Rights: 7   Civil Liberties: 5   Status: Not Free

2009 Edition

[accessed 17 February 2013]

LONG URL   ç 2009 Country Reports begin on Page 21

[accessed 13 May 2020]

Vietnam’s judiciary is subservient to the CPV, which controls courts at all levels. Defendants have a constitutional right to counsel, but lawyers are scarce and many are reluctant to take on human rights and other sensitive cases for fear of harassment and retribution by the state. Defense attorneys cannot call or question witnesses and are only infrequently permitted to request leniency for their clients.

Police can hold individuals in administrative detention for up to two years on suspicion of threatening national security. The police are known to abuse suspects and prisoners, and prison conditions are poor. Many have been imprisoned for their political and religious beliefs; though there have been fewer arrests and more releases of religious prisoners in recent years.

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Cite this webpage as: Patt, Prof. Martin, "Torture by Police, Forced Disappearance & Other Ill Treatment in the early years of the 21st Century- Vietnam ",, [accessed <date>]