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Press decree part of crackdown on freedom of expression, says ARTICLE 19

(ARTICLE 19/IFEX) - Hanoi 20.06.11: ARTICLE 19 is marking the 86th Vietnamese Revolutionary Press Day tomorrow, by launching a legal analysis on Vietnam's Decree No. 2 of 2011 on Administrative Responsibility for Press and Publication Activities. ARTICLE 19's key concerns with the Decree include unnecessary restrictions placed on journalists, media workers and bloggers, which further undermine media freedom. A number of restrictions, mandated in the Decree, violate international freedom of expression standards, including the prohibition of the use of journalist pseudonyms and the sanctioning of journalists who do not disclose their information sources. The Decree, which came into effect on 25 February 2011 amidst increasing crackdown on human rights activists and government critics, regulates administrative liability for press and publication activities.

"The Press Decree is a draconian tool masquerading under the guise of improving media professionalism. The Decree will further suppress views and expressions in a country where self-censorship is commonplace and people are already threatened with severe punishments for exercising their legitimate right to freedom of expression," said Agnès Callamard, ARTICLE 19 Executive Director.

"Accustomed to having full control over public opinions, it appears that the government feels threatened by the media boom of recent years and the empowering nature of new media. Censoring bloggers and journalists is not the solution to upholding journalist responsibilities," continued Callamard.

ARTICLE 19 believes that self-regulation is the best approach to upholding media professionalism. Contrary to international media standards, the Decree allows the government to control professional standards of news making, interaction of individuals with the media, and the processes of media business - subject matters that are normally left to the journalist profession or media industry to decide on.

The overly broad scope and obscure provisions of the Decree are liable for abuse by the authorities for state intervention and restriction on legitimate expressions. For example the rules restricting the selling, circulation, renting and posting on the internet of materials "that encourage superstition, bad tradition and social evils" can be used to arbitrarily and unnecessarily restrict legitimate speech.

The Decree also overburdens media workers with a regime of unnecessary registration, sanctions, bans and censorship.

Read ARTICLE 19's Comment on Decree 02 of 2011:
ARTICLE19_comment_on_decree_no_02_2011.pdf (378 KB)

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