(NEW YORK)—PEN America today condemned the transfer of Vietnamese writer and journalist Pham Doan Trang to a remote prison facility, calling the move retaliation for exercising her right to freedom of expression. PEN America called on Vietnamese authorities to uphold international legal standards in its treatment of wrongfully jailed prisoners.

“From Pham Doan Trang’s lengthy incommunicado detention to the wholly disproportionate and unjustified sentence of nine years in prison handed down in her case last year, it comes as no surprise that she has faced another retaliatory judicial measure from the Vietnamese government,” said Karin Deutsch Karlekar, director of Free Expression at Risk Programs at PEN America. “The ruling party has made it abundantly clear that it wields the legal system as a weapon to criminalize, punish, and silence critical voices. As we continue to condemn the unjust imprisonment of Pham Doan Trang and call for her release, we urge Vietnamese authorities to uphold its commitment to international standards and respect the fundamental rights of its citizens to fair and humane treatment under the law.”

A prolific author and a leading voice in Vietnamese civil society, Pham Doan Trang has been recognized internationally for her writings on politics and human rights. She was arrested on October 6, 2020 and sentenced to nine years in prison on December 14, 2021 under Article 117 of the 2015 Penal Code for “making, storing, distributing or disseminating information, documents and items against the Socialist Republic of Vietnam,” a provision found arbitrary by the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. After a rejected appeal this August, Trang was transferred on October 1 to An Phuoc Prison in Vietnam’s southern Binh Duong Province, a facility located 100 kilometers away from Ho Chi Minh City. Transferring political prisoners to remote facilities has been repeatedly used as a punitive measure to cut off communication from family members and the outside world. According to PEN America’s 2021 Freedom to Write Index, Vietnam jailed the eight-highest number of writers and intellectuals globally during 2021.

About PEN America

PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible. Learn more at pen.org.

Contact: Suzanne Trimel, [email protected], 201-247-5057