A video showing a Vietnamese police officer allegedly kicking a man on the floor of a police station has gone viral after being published on social media, calling attention to police brutality in Vietnam.
The incident occurred on Tuesday in Tuy Hoa city, Phu Yen province. When the video starts, one man is already lying on the ground and the police officer appears to attack him in the chest and head using his foot. It was uploaded to Facebook on the same day.
Another video related to the incident was posted later, featuring a woman claiming to be the victim’s wife, explaining the situation.
She said in the video that her husband had gone to the police station to work with police in an unrelated investigation. There he exchanged words with someone else in the process of questioning. She claims it was then that the police officer grabbed his neck before pushing him to the ground prior to when the viral video starts.
The police account of the events prior to the start of the video differs. They claim the man appeared to be drunk as he entered the police station. He then allegedly started screaming and shouting and they asked him to leave. They say he fell to the floor, continuing to scream, when the officer tried to gain control of the situation.
The wife also said that after the incident occurred, they posted the video to Facebook, after which police were sent to their house in an attempt to take her husband back to the police station, but she didn’t want him to go because she was worried something could happen to him.
The next day, the police chief spoke to Vietnamese state media, saying the officer accused of beating the man was now on administrative leave, citing an impending investigation.
The chief also acknowledged the misconduct of the officer, but seemingly added fuel to the fire by suggesting the officer did not deliberately kick the alleged victim, he just lifted his leg a bit high and unintentionally made contact.
Commenters on Facebook noted previous incidents of police brutality that were allegedly explained away in similar ways, saying there was a double standard. When civilians attack the police they have to go to court, but when police attack civilians, they receive no punishment, they said.
New York-based Human Rights Watch has said that police brutality is systemic in Vietnam, whose Ministry of Public Security has admitted that 226 suspects and inmates died in police stations and detention facilities throughout the country between October 2010 and September 2014.
In November of last year a Vietnamese delegation introduced a state-backed report to the United Nations Committee Against Torture, explaining that the right not to be tortured was guaranteed by the constitution.
The report said that the country introduced three new laws between 2017 and 2018 to better implement the Convention against Torture.
The committee noted however that the constitution did not define torture nor was there a provision on the offense of torture in it.
Additional reporting and translation by Viet Ha for RFA's Vietnamese Service.