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New Vietnam law imposes fines for recording without permission in court

New regulations on the coverage of court proceedings could further curb press freedom in Vietnam, journalists say.

Under regulations known as the Ordinance on Sanctions for Administrative Violations that Hinder Procedural Activities, journalists who record video or audio of a trial without the consent of the presiding judge will be fined up to VND15 million ($640). risk being fined.

The regulation, approved by the Vietnam National Assembly Standing Committee on Thursday, also makes it illegal for the media to record participants in procedural activities without their consent. The minimum fine for violation is 7 million Vietnamese dong ($300). According to data firm Statista, this amount is close to the average monthly income in Vietnam.

When this law takes effect on his September 1st, journalists will be required to seek permission to make all administrative, civil and criminal court records.

Journalists found to be in violation of the law must surrender their recordings.

Vietnam's Supreme Court Deputy Chief Justice Nguyen Tri Thieu told state media that the law was needed to address the growing number of violations in court proceedings that made the work of judges difficult and affected. Said said. Quality of hearings and judicial authority.

In Vietnam, journalists have the right to record court hearings under the Press Act. In other countries, media are often prohibited from filming or filming court proceedings.

Legal experts, journalists and even some legislators have criticized the regulation, saying that punishing journalists who record court hearings is against other laws and the work of the media. says it would interfere with their rights.

Nguyen Cong Phu, former deputy chief of the Economic Court of the Ho Chi Minh City People's Court, told state media that journalists do not release recordings, but instead send audio or video to someone who contradicts their reports. record when

Ha Huy Son, a lawyer who defends bloggers and activists in court, told VOA that there should be no restrictions if trials are open to the public.

"[Journalists] need to make audio and video recordings to protect themselves in case there is a lawsuit against them," Son said. “This regulation poses a challenge for them.”

Vo Van Tao, who has worked for the state-run newspaper for 15 years, told VOA that the new regulations have drawbacks. rice field.

"The press law states that the rights and responsibilities of journalists, and the media in general, are to investigate and bring to light issues of public concern," said Tao. said. "If there is a law that criminalizes journalists who tape court sessions, I think there is something wrong with that."

Tao not only works in journalism, He has 10 years of experience as a People's Jury at the People's Court in central Nha Trang.

Chief Justice Nguyen Hoa Binh of the Supreme People's Court argued that journalists have rights but that "the law protects people's privacy."

Member of Parliament Rubin Nuong is one of his opponents. According to Vietnamese news outlet VnExpress, he said there was no need to restrict audio and video recordings unless state secrets, military secrets or sexual assault cases were involved in the trial.

Regarding public trials,

At public hearings, the media often act as independent observers of the proceedings.

In many public trials of journalists and human rights activists, family members of defendants are not allowed to attend, Mr Nhuong said. to Tao. {3 8}

At his August 16 appeal hearing against Le Van Dung, the journalist's wife was not allowed to attend the trial, Dung's lawyer, Dang Dinh Manh, said she told VOA.

Dung's appeal against his five-year sentence on "anti-state" charges was dismissed by the Hanoi court.

In a country where the traditional media is strictly controlled by a single political party, Mr Tao said the new regulations would "strangle more press power".

"Regulations that hinder the activities of journalists expose society to false information, which can only be harmful to society," Tao said.

In many cases, independent bloggers and journalists are the sole source of freely reported news, according to media watchdog Reporters Without Borders.

New York The Committee to Protect Journalists, based in , also said Vietnam was the fourth worst prisoner of journalists in the world, with 23 detained for work as of CPJ's 2021 Prison Census.

However, Vietnam's foreign ministry has repeatedly said the country has press freedom.

This article comes from his VOA Vietnamese service.