A Vietnamese woman will file a lawsuit against the Vietnamese government after she was physically forced by authorities to take a COVID-19 test.
What happened: On Sept. 28 in the city of Thuan An, police broke into the woman’s house and forced her to take a COVID-19 test, reported Radio Free Asia.
- Authorities cut the lock on the door of Hoang Thi Phuong Lan’s apartment and dragged her to a testing site outside of the building. She previously told them that she had tested negative for COVID-19.
- Lan refused as she was teaching an online yoga class at the time of the incident and reportedly did not want to come into contact with others at a crowded testing site.
- Several video clips of the incident were uploaded to social media, one of which was recorded by Lan herself. “I have the right not to let anyone touch my body, and what they did was absolutely wrong from a legal standpoint, and it also went against the regulations on pandemic prevention and control,” Lan said in a livestream on Facebook.
- She also received a fine from the local government of two million dong (approximately $88) for health law violations. “It was wrong that they decided to give me a fine even after they were able to get my specimen. Therefore, I am taking legal action,” she added in her video.
- In a video shared by Radio Free Asia, police can be seen dragging Lan out of her apartment while her child is heard crying in the background.
- According to news site Tuoi Tre, representatives of the ward authorities, police officers and members of the apartment complex’s management were present during the incident.
Lawyers’ statement: Lan’s lawyers have said that the police violated her human rights and broke the law.
- “According to the Law on Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases, Ms. Lan was not suspected of having a transmissible disease as there was no information about her close contact with an infected case or about her own infection,” lawyer Bui Quang Thang told Radio Free Asia. “Therefore, she cannot be subject to a forced test. As a result, fining Ms. Lan for not taking a test as requested by health authorities is unreasonable… If the trial is fair, Ms. Lan has a good chance of winning this case.”
- Another lawyer, Dang Dinh Manh, explained that the taskforce committed illegal acts by breaking into Lan’s home, damaging her assets and arresting her illegally. According to him, the police were in violation of Decree 117 of 2020, which only allows authorities to fine those guilty of administrative health care violations but does not allow coercive sanctions.
- Lawyer Hoang Van Huong told Tuoi Tre: “The coerced woman did not receive any notice saying taking the COVID-19 test was mandatory. In addition, there was a child in the house. The child cried, screamed and was in a state of panic because they had broken the door lock and arrested the mother. The psychological shock could affect the child’s long-term psychological development.”
The apology: According to state media reports, Vo Thanh Quan, the Communist Party secretary of Thuan An, visited Lan’s apartment to apologize to her for the incident.
- In a Facebook chat, Lan explained that the party officials spent 40 minutes trying to persuade her to “forgive them, forget the incident, remove the Facebook post and cooperate with them [in the fight against COVID-19].”
- “I acknowledge their apology but do not accept it. In addition to their illegal acts, they also humiliated and insulted me in front of the crowd and my child and caused mental harm to him,” Lan said.
- Lan said that she would consult her lawyers about filing legal proceedings against the Vietnamese government.
- Bien Hoa City’s Police said that they summoned those involved for an investigation.