United Nations Rules that Detention of Australian Man in Vietnam is Unlawful: Michael Polak Represents

Michael Polak
By: Michael Polak July 19, 2022

Church Court Chambers’ barrister Michael Polak acts with Sydney lawyer Dan Nguyen on behalf of Mr Chau Van Kham, a 71-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 hearing which failed to comply with international fair trial standards.  

In April 2021, Michael Polak and Mr Van Kham’s legal team made submissions to the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention arguing that the conditions of pre-trial detention, lack of confidential access to a lawyer, and the trial procedure which lasted only 4.5 hours for 6 defendants, as well as the vague nature of the charge and the fact that no evidence of any criminal acts was put before the Court, rendered the trial unfair and in breach of international law and meant that Mr Van Kham’s continued detention is arbitrary.  Annexed to these submissions was a note on the breaches of international law from Human Rights Watch and as well as evidence of Amnesty International’s designation of Mr Van Kham as a prisoner of conscience.

After considering Mr Van Kham’s case carefully the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has delivered its decision concluding that Mr Van Kham’s detention is arbitrary and therefore unlawful under international law and has ordered his immediate unconditional release. The Working Group, comprised of experts in international law, found that the detention of Mr Chau Van Kham was unlawful under all 4 relevant categories of Arbitrary Detention that it is mandated to consider. The full decision can be found here.

Mr Van Kham’s case has been reported in the press here:

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



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