Michael Polak’s Client Vietnamese-Australian Democracy Activist Chau Van Kham Released and Returned to Australia

Michael Polak
By: Michael Polak July 11, 2023

Church Court Chambers’ barrister Michael Polak acted with Sydney lawyer Dan Nguyen on behalf of Mr Chau Van Kham, a 73-year-old Australian democracy activist who was arrested in January 2019 and sentenced to 12 years imprisonment for terrorism because of his democracy activism, after a trial which failed to comply with international fair trial standards.  

On 11 July 2023, Mr Chau Van Kham was returned to Australia where he is now a free man. 

Michael Polak worked with Ms Dan Ngyuen, the family’s lawyer, to push for Mr Van Kham’s release from his unjust conviction and detention which were unlawful under international law.  On 7 June 2022, after considering submissions by Mr Chau Van Kham’s legal concluded that Mr Van Kham’s detention was arbitrary and therefore unlawful under international law and they ordered his immediate unconditional release.  The Australian Government engaged with Vietnam to push for Chau’s release and Mr Chau’s legal team are grateful for their intervention.

Australia’s 60 Minutes news programme has previously reported on Mr Van Kham’s plight.

Michael Polak stated the following:

‘We are very pleased that Mr Van Kham has been returned to Australia to his loving wife who has missed him greatly over the last four years. It is a wonderful day for Chau and his family and one that they were beginning to feel might never come.

Although we celebrate Chau’s release today, it is clear that he should never have been convicted or faced such a serious sentence under the false description of terrorism.  Chau’s belief in democracy for those in Vietnam is one that is based on universal rights and should not have resulted in his persecution.

We remain concerned about the democrats, labour rights activists, environmentalists, and lawyers who remain languishing in Vietnamese prisons and hope that Vietnam’s international partners can encourage the authorities to move towards a free society there.’

Michael Polak is available for instruction in international human rights and public international law matters by contacting his clerks, by email clerks@timm283.sg-host.com or by phone 020 7936 3637.

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