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Cablegate: Detentions/Mistreatment of Amcits Strongly

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HO CHI MINH CITY 001108

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

DEPT FOR CA/OCS/ACS/EAP, EAP/BCLTV

BANGKOK FOR LEGAT

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: CASC VM HUMANR
SUBJECT: Detentions/Mistreatment of Amcits Strongly
Protested

REF: A) HCMC 1032; B) HCMC 1057; C) HCMC 1100; D) HCMC
1048; E) State 176619

1. (SBU) On August 17, DPO and consular chief called on Le
Hung Quoc, First Vice Director of HCMC's External Relations
Office (ERO), to deliver a diplomatic note protesting the
recent detention and abuse of five Amcits (refs A-C), the
GVN's failure to notify the USG of the detentions, and the
attempts made by interrogators from the Ministry of Public
Security (MPS) to prevent the detainees from communicating
with the USG after their release. The text of the note
follows in para 4.

2. (SBU) Consul General and consular chief had discussed the
incidents with Quoc during a function on the evening of
August 13, and consular chief sent him a letter the
following day with basic information about the cases (names,
DPOBs, passport numbers, dates of detention, and dates of
departure from Vietnam). On the morning of August 17, ERO
replied to the letter with a note stating that it had no
information about any of the cases except that of Hoang Lan
The, about whom it had already sent a note (ref B).

3. (SBU) Meeting on 8/17, DPO repeated the USG's deep
concern about the allegations made by the five Amcits
detained. Quoc reiterated that ERO was not aware of the
cases and had been unable to obtain any information about
them from MPS, but agreed that such abuses should not take
place. He said that post should provide him with any
evidence the detainees might have provided supporting their
allegations, and repeated the GVN's accusation that Hoang
Lan The had been deported because he was a terrorist.
Consular chief explained that victims of this type of abuse
were rarely able to provide hard evidence of what had
happened to them. Consular chief also invited Quoc to
provide any information in the possession of the GVN linking
Hoang Lan The with terrorist activities, assuring him that
the FBI takes such activities seriously, and pointing to the
arrest of accused Bangkok embassy bomber Van Duc Vo as an
example. Quoc promised to look into the cases further with
MPS.

4. (SBU) The following is the text of post's protest note:

No. 254/04

The Consulate General of the United States of America in Ho
Chi Minh City presents its compliments to the Office of
External Relations in Ho Chi Minh City (Office) and protests
strongly a series of instances over the last several weeks
in which citizens of the United States were allegedly
seized, detained, and interrogated by officials of the
Ministry of Public Security (MPS).

Although none of the American citizens concerned was ever
charged with any crime, MPS officers nonetheless allegedly
seized individuals and families from cars, hotel rooms, and
other locations in various areas of southern Vietnam, used
force to bring them under duress to MPS detention
facilities, unoccupied houses, and hotels, and interrogated
them for many days. These American citizens reported that
MPS interrogators placed bags over their heads; deprived
them of sleep; bound them to chairs with ropes; and, in at
least once case, punched and slapped them. All of these
alleged tactics were apparently employed in an effort to
force these American citizens to respond to questions. The
United States citizens detained by the MPS also reported
that they were forced to read "confessions" drafted by MPS
officers and that these "confessions" were videotaped.

The Consulate General protests in the strongest possible
terms all physical and psychological abuse of United States
citizens by Vietnamese officials, and requests that the
appropriate agencies of the Government of the Socialist
Republic of Vietnam: investigate these allegations; punish
the responsible MPS officials if the allegations are found
to be true; and ensure that no such abuses against American
citizens are tolerated.

The Department of State believes that the conduct of the
Government of Vietnam in these cases may also have violated
the consular notification provisions of the Vienna
Convention on Consular Relations (VCCR), to which both
Vietnam and the United States are signatories. Article 36
of the VCCR requires that the competent authorities of the
receiving state inform a detained foreign national of his
right to request that his consular post be notified of his
detention. If a detained foreign national requests such
notification, the competent authorities of the receiving
state must inform the appropriate consular post of the
detention without delay. We understand that none of the
United States citizens detained by the MPS received consular
notification as required by Article 36. The Consulate
General was officially notified of only one of these
detentions (Diplomatic Note no. 3205/NV/LS, dated 12 August
2004), but this notification came only after the American
citizen had departed Vietnam, and several weeks after his
initial detention, despite the Consulate General's repeated
efforts to inquire about each of these cases.
Finally, we understand that officials of the MPS ordered the
United States citizen detainees not to contact the Consulate
General or other agencies of the Government of the United
States or to inform their Government of their detention and
mistreatment. Intimidation aimed at preventing American
citizens from communicating with their Government also
violates the VCCR. Article 36 states that "consular
officers shall be free to communicate with nationals of the
sending State and to have access to them. Nationals of the
sending State shall have the same freedom with respect to
communication with and access to consular officers of the
sending State."

The Consulate General requests that the Office immediately
inform any United States citizen who may be detained in
Vietnam, but who has not received consular information as
required by the VCCR, of his or her right to consular
notification and access and to provide the Consulate General
with complete reports describing their location and the
circumstances surrounding their arrests. The Consulate
General will also insist on unimpeded access to any and all
such U.S. citizens who may request it. Finally, the
Consulate General further requests the assurance of the
Government of Vietnam that persons subject to its authority
will not employ physically or psychologically abusive
techniques when interrogating United States citizens, and
that any officers of the Government of Vietnam who mistreat
American citizens, or interfere with the exercise by
American citizens of their right to contact their consular
representatives, will be held accountable for their actions.

The Consulate General of the United States of America avails
itself of this opportunity to renew to the Office of
External Relations in Ho Chi Minh City the assurances of its
highest consideration.

Consulate General of the United States of America
Ho Chi Minh City, 16 August 2004.

Winnick

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