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Green Energy Expert's Arrest Raises Concerns within United Nations

Published September 29, 2023
9 months ago

The United Nations' human rights office has publicised their worry over the recent arrest of Ngo Thi To Nhien, a Vietnamese expert in green energy, who previously cooperated with multiple global institutions such as the UN, World Bank and the United State Aid Agency (USAID). The arrest took place shortly after US President Joe Biden finalized agreements with Hanoi concerning business and human rights.

Nhien, the executive director of the Vietnam Initiative for Energy Transition (VIET), an independent think-tank centered around green energy policies, was apprehended by Hanoi police on September 15, a source informed Reuters. VIET's scope of work and Nhien’s personal commitment to international forums on green energy transition have been widely acknowledged. However, the decision of her detention and its proximity to President Biden’s visit raised eyebrows ; a situation which the US State Department chose to refrain from commenting on specifically.

Vietnam, a prominent user of coal, has over the past two years, been under scrutiny for arresting five environmental human rights activists under accusations of tax evasion. This has coincidently occurred while international financing discussions were underway for Vietnam to transition from coal usage. Nhien’s arrest appears to be an addition to this, despite her being recognised more as a technical expert than a public activist.

Furthermore, transparency on this issue remains withheld as the Vietnamese government has not publicly addressed Nhien’s arrest nor has it responded to any queries on the matter. Adding to the concerns surrounding human rights in the country, Vietnam executed Le Van Manh, found guilty of murder and other serious offences, despite an intervention plea by the European Union and concerns raised by Human Rights Watch over Manh's dismissed alibi.

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