Paul Mooney

Pham Doan Trang, Vietnam

International Press Freedom Awards

CPJ is honored to present its 2022 International Press Freedom Award to Vietnamese journalist Pham Doan Trang.

Vietnamese journalist Pham Doan Trang is serving a nine-year prison sentence under Article 117 of the penal code, a provision that bans making or spreading news against the state in Vietnam’s highly censored and state-dominated media environment. She was held incommunicado for over a year before her December 2021 conviction in a one-day trial.

Screenshot: YouTube/Project 88

Trang was among at least 23 Vietnamese journalists held behind bars for their work at the time of CPJ’s 2021 prison census.

Trang, a former state media reporter who was fired for leaking audio of a police interrogation while she was detained to an independent journalist, covers human rights issues for the Luat Khoa legal magazine she founded and for the independent English-language website The Vietnamese. She has also reported for the exile-run blog Danlambao.

Security forces beat her at a protest in 2015, giving her permanent injuries and causing her to walk with a limp.

Before her October 2020 arrest, Trang wrote on her personal Facebook page that she faced persistent police harassment for her journalism and publishing, and posted a letter calling for democratic reforms titled “Just in case I am imprisoned,” which circulated widely online and was cited in several news reports.

Trang was mentioned in a joint communication issued by five U.N. Human Rights Council special rapporteurs responding to the harassment she and other independent journalists faced in Vietnam. 

In 2018, Trang went into hiding after being interrogated by police over her reporting, and she has also spent time abroad in self-imposed exile after facing official harassment.

By honoring her with this year’s IPFA, CPJ is shining a spotlight on the deteriorating press freedom environment in Vietnam, which is among the five worst jailers of journalists worldwide.