Frequently Asked Questions


1. How do you define "political prisoner"?

We define a political prisoner as any person who has been jailed or had their freedom restricted because of their political or religious beliefs or activities. In Vietnam, this includes people who have expressed disapproval towards the government or communist party regime, engaged in peaceful protest or other non-violent forms of social or political activism, or they belong to an organization, race, religion or other groups not approved by or in conflict with the government. 

2. What do the Article numbers under "Charges" refer to?

Those Article numbers refer to the provisions of the 1999 Vietnamese Criminal Code, that, up until December 31, 2017, were used to arrest and prosecute activists. Thirteen such articles had been used by the government to criminalize dissent.

As of January 1, 2018, the 2015 Criminal Code, as amended by Law No. 12/2017/QH14 of June 20, 2017, entered into force and brings about some changes in the order of the provisions and the substance of some concerned provisions. For arrests and sentences that occur after January 1, 2018, please consult the new 2015 Criminal Code. The provisions of the new code will be referred to in this database as "Art. No. (new)."

3. How do you find and compile the information?

We rely on a number of sources to compile the information: 

- First-hand information from families, colleagues, and friends of political prisoners 

- Articles on state-owned media that confirm arrests, charges, and sentences against political prisoners

- Information from independent media in Vietnamese, Vietnamese human rights organizations, and social media pages of activists in Vietnam

- Information from international media 

We compile the information from the above sources and cross-check the information with existing lists and databases of political prisoners in Vietnam, notably:

- Amnesty International, Viet Nam: List of Prisoners of Conscience, 12 July 2016

- BPSOS, Religious Prisoners in Vietnam, May 10, 2017

- NOW!Campaign Database of prisoners of conscience

- Former Vietnamese Prisoners of Conscience's List of prisoners of conscience

4. How often do you update the database?

We update the database on a weekly basis. You can search the most recently updated profiles by using the "Sort by" field in our search feature from the homepage. To receive updates by email every week, please subscribe to our weekly newsletter!

5. Many political prisoners I know don't have a profile on this website, why? 

This database is created to support the advocacy and assistance effort for current political prisoners. For that reason, we prioritize the data on those who were still in prison as of December 2017 (the time the database website was constructed). Political prisoners who were released prior to December 2017 are not included in the database.

Vietnamese Political Prisoner Database © 2018 The 88 Project