July 2023 | Court sentences 54 individuals in high profile corruption case
On 28 July, the Hanoi People's Court handed down lengthy prison sentences to 54 individuals, including high-ranking officials, senior diplomats, businesspeople and a former deputy foreign minister on corruption and bribery charges linked to repatriation flights carried out during the Covid-19 pandemic. Those convicted were found guilty of "receiving, offering or being complicit in bribes, fraud and abusing positions of power." Four former officials at the ministries of foreign affairs, health and public security received life sentences. Political analysts consider the case to be one of the largest bribery cases in the country's history. The court's ruling marks a significant development within the country's extensive anti-corruption campaign, which has already resulted in the forced resignations of the state president and two deputy prime ministers in early 2023.
June 2023 | Continuing suppression of dissent
Vietnamese authorities arrested and detained prominent environmentalist and climate change campaigner Hoang Thi Minh Hong on 1 June for alleged tax evasion charges. Several staff members from founder Hong's non-governmental organization CHANGE were also detained but subsequently released. Human rights experts note Hong's arrest is part of a broader trend of targeting free speech and restricting civic space, with Hong's case marking the fifth prominent environmental defender arrested for tax evasion in the past two years. The United Nations states that at least 20 activists and human rights defenders have been arrested under wrongful charges in the past year, calling into question the independence of the judiciary. Human Rights Watch has furthermore criticized Vietnam's use of the vaguely worded and flawed tax used in targeting human rights activists, adding that most of the persecutions are politically motivated. According to Human Rights Watch, more than 150 political prisoners are being held in Vietnam for exercising free speech.
March 2023 | Vo Van Thuong elected as new president
Vietnam’s National Assembly elected Vo Van Thuong as the country’s new president on 2 March. He replaces Nguyen Xuan Phuc, who was forced to step down in January in connection with a series of COVID-related corruption scandals. Thuong is currently the youngest member of the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) Politburo and said to be a close ally of party chief Nguyen Phu Trong.
January 2023 | President resigns over covid-related corruption accusations
Vietnam's president Nguyen Xuan Phuc stepped down on 17 January following ruling Communist Party accusations of corrupt conduct by officials under his control. Phuc's departure marks the first resignation of a Vietnamese sitting president and is the highest-profile casualty of the country's anti-corruption crackdown. Two of the country's four deputy prime ministers were also expelled from the party earlier in the month. Analysts note that the resignation will allow party chief Nguyen Phu Trong to further concentrate political power.