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Vietnam appeals court cuts jail terms of pro-democracy rights lawyers

[JURIST] A Vietnamese court on Tuesday reduced the prison terms of two human rights lawyers sentenced for spreading propaganda against the state. The lawyers, Nguyen Van Dai, 38, and Le Thi Cong Nhan, 28, were not released from custody, but the court lowered Dai's term from five years to four and Nhan's from four years to three because neither lawyer had a prior criminal record and because their activism had not yet seriously damaged the country. Both lawyers challenged the People's Supreme Court during their appeal hearing, criticizing the government's lack of democracy and human rights.

Vietnamese officials arrested [JURIST report] the two lawyers in February after they hosted discussions on human rights law; they were convicted [JURIST report] in May for violating Article 88 of the Vietnamese criminal code by advocating a multi-party system of government in the now-communist Vietnam [JURIST archive]. Defense lawyers for the activists maintain that they were lawfully exercising the right free speech guaranteed under the Vietnamese constitution [text] and international law. AFP has more.

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