Vietnam intensified a media crackdown targeting online journalists and bloggers, reasserting the government’s near-total control of domestic news media. Authorities arrested and detained five bloggers and contributors to online news publications, bringing to nine the number of journalists behind bars. Political bloggers Pham Minh Hoang and Vi Duc Hoi were both given harsh prison sentences on antistate charges related to their writings. Authorities continued to hold and deny visitation privileges for blogger Nguyen Van Hai even though his prison sentence expired in October 2010. A new executive decree that came into force in February gave the government greater powers to penalize journalists, editors, and bloggers who reported on issues deemed sensitive to national security. An "accusation" bill passed in November was designed to force journalists to reveal the identities of confidential sources critical of government agencies.
CPJ ranked Vietnam among the worst countries in the world to be a blogger. Detentions, harassment, and severely restrictive laws have earned the country the designation.
At least nine journalists were behind bars when CPJ conducted its worldwide census on December 1, 2011. All nine of the reporters imprisoned in Vietnam published blogs or contributed to online news publications.
1. Iran: 42
2. Eritrea: 28
3. China: 27
4. Burma: 12
5. Vietnam: 9
6. Syria: 8
Authorities imprisoned five online journalists during 2011, intensifying their crackdown on political dissent, according to CPJ research. Four other online journalists had been detained prior to 2011.
Dong's murder was the first work-related fatality in Vietnam since CPJ began compiling detailed statistics in 1992.
Internet penetration rates have been relatively flat over the past several years, according to data from the International Telecommunication Union, or ITU.