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IPA urges authorities to improve freedom to publish conditions

(IPA/IFEX) - The following is a 20 June 2008 IPA press release:

IPA urges Vietnam to strengthen private publishing

Geneva, 20 June 2008 - Following the adoption of a resolution on freedom to publish in Vietnam by its 28th Congress, the International Publishers Association (IPA) wrote to the Vietnamese Prime Minister, urging him to take concrete steps to improve the conditions of freedom to publish in Vietnam.

Meeting in Seoul, Korea, in May 2008, the 28th IPA Publishers Congress called "on Vietnam to engage and implement reforms, which will improve the freedom to publish and will allow publishers to contribute freely to the cultural, social and economic wealth of Vietnam without fear of imprisonment, persecution or harassment for themselves, and their associates. Publishers, writers, journalists, bloggers and citizens currently in prison or under house arrest for having exercised their constitutional rights to freedom of expression should be freed immediately". In Vietnam, the list of people concerned includes: Le Dinh Nhan, Le Thi Cong Nhan, Nguyen Van Dai, Nguyen van Ly, Tran Khai Than Thuy, and Tran Guoc Hien.

Bjorn Smith Simonsen, Chair of IPA's Freedom to Publish Committee, declared: "The complex screening process that books and other written materials have to undergo prior to publication in Vietnam is of extreme concern to IPA". He adds: "Evidence shows that this government-controlled screening mechanism aims at allowing pre- and post-publication censorship".

As an organisation concerned with the promotion of freedom of expression and freedom of enterprise, IPA strongly condemns this screening mechanism, which is tantamount to State censorship, and therefore urged the Vietnamese government to strengthen independent publishing in Vietnam by: Abolishing the publications registration system; allowing independent publishing houses; implementing Article 5 (item 2) & repealing Article 72 of Vietnam's Publishing Law (2004); and implementing the measures included in the specific demand adopted by the 28th IPA Publishers Congress in Seoul on 15 May 2008.

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