Journalists Oppose Proposed Restrictions on Courtroom Recording Rights in Vietnam

Vietnam's proposed law restricting journalists' courtroom recording rights sparks concerns over press freedom and public access to legal proceedings, as journalists face increasing dangers reporting on sensitive issues worldwide.

Ayesha Mumtaz
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Journalists Oppose Proposed Restrictions on Courtroom Recording Rights in Vietnam

Journalists Oppose Proposed Restrictions on Courtroom Recording Rights in Vietnam

The Supreme People's Court in Vietnam has proposed a draft amendment to the Law on Organization of People's Courts that would restrict journalists' ability to record or film in courtrooms. Under the proposal, recordings would only be allowed during opening sessions and the announcement of verdicts. Journalists argue that this would make it difficult to accurately report on trials and verify their own reporting.

Journalists have already faced challenges in covering major trials in Vietnam, such as those related to COVID-19 scandals and a major fraud case, where they were only permitted to bring pens and paper into the courtroom. Experts and lawyers have criticized the proposed restrictions, stating that they go against the constitutional principle of public hearings and deprive journalists of their rights.

Pham Doan Trang, a Vietnamese author, journalist, and dissident who was sentenced to nine years in prison for "anti-state propaganda" in 2022, will receive the 2024 PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write Award from PEN America. Despite the Vietnamese government's crackdown on dissent, Trang's powerful words continue to inspire people across Vietnam and throughout the world.

The proposed restrictions on courtroom recordings in Vietnam come amidst a broader context of challenges faced by journalists reporting on conflicts and sensitive issues around the world. In Sudan, journalists covering the ongoing street battles between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces have been assaulted, arrested, and even killed. Many have had to flee the country or are unable to report due to communications blackouts.

Why this matters: The proposed restrictions on journalists' courtroom recording rights in Vietnam raise concerns about press freedom and the public's right to access information about legal proceedings. As journalists face increasing challenges and dangers in reporting on sensitive issues worldwide, it is essential to protect their ability to accurately and safely report the news without fear of reprisal.

Experts argue that journalists should be allowed to record and film entire trials in Vietnam to ensure public supervision and accurate reporting. They suggest that legal teams can be trained to avoid being distracted by cameras, rather than imposing blanket restrictions. In the case of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) working to defend the rights of journalists globally, the proposed amendment in Vietnam serves as a reminder of the ongoing struggle for press freedom in many parts of the world.

Key Takeaways

  • Vietnam proposes restricting journalists' courtroom recording rights.
  • Journalists argue this would hinder accurate trial reporting.
  • Experts criticize the proposal as against public hearing principles.
  • Journalist Pham Doan Trang to receive PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write Award.
  • Journalists face increasing challenges reporting on conflicts worldwide.