Detained lawyer gets recognition from German judges

Nguyen Van Dai’s wife, Vu Minh Khanh, has led an international campaign for his release.

The German Association of Judges has named the detained Vietnamese lawyer, Nguyen Van Dai, as recipient of its human rights prize for 2017.

The organisation, Germany’s largest professional organisation of judges and public prosecutors, honours a lawyer every two years for outstanding merit in the defence of human rights.

Recent laureates have included lawyers from Syria, Iran and China.

The recognition for Mr Dai comes fifteen months after he was arrested on charges of conducting propaganda against the state under Article 88 of the penal code.

Western government and international human rights organisations have all called for Mr Dai’s arrest, concluding that he is being held on trumped up political charges for his boldness in criticising the Vietnamese government.

Dai has been held in isolation for 15 months

The award from the German Association of Judges, known by its German initials, DRB, serves as another reminder to the Vietnamese authorities that their crackdown on dissent has not been forgotten by the international community.

The government reacted angrily last week to the announcement that the US State Department had honoured another jailed activist, Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, as an international woman of courage.

Mr Dai was arrested in December 2015, a week after he was waylaid and badly beaten up by a gang clearly operating under the auspices of police commanders.

He was returning to Hanoi after attending a training session on human rights and political rights held south of the capital.

He has not been allowed a meeting with lawyers or family members since his arrest and has not been brought to trial.

Dai is one of the best known of a number of activists and human rights campaigners arrested by the authorities.

He came to prominence a decade earlier through his involvement with a pressure group known as the Brotherhood for Democracy.

He served four years in prison and four years under house arrest for his earlier activities, only resuming his work after his release in early 2015.