12, Feb 2018 | CJP Team
The Guardian reported that a Vietnam court has sentenced activist Hoang Duc Binh to 14 years in prison for livestreaming fishermen’s march to file a lawsuit against a steel plant that expelled toxic material into the sea. Binh was found guilty of “abusing democratic freedoms to infringe on the interests of the state, organisation and people, and opposing officers on duty,” the Guardian said. Binh, while livestreaming on Facebook in February 2017, commented that authorities stopped and assaulted the fishermen. A lawyer said Binh acknowledged making the comments in court, but did not admit to a crime because he said they were true. However, the court said the comments were false and defamed the authorities. The steel plant at the centre of the case, owned by Formosa Plastics Group, emitted toxic materials like phenol and cyanide in a test run in April 2016, resulting in the widespread death of fish and other marine life off over 200 kilometres of coastline. This severely disrupted fishing and tourism. According to Reuters, Binh’s sentence is one of the harshest an activist has been given in Vietnam. In the last month, eight people have been sentenced to prison for circulating propaganda against the government.