Hanoi to jail those spreading fake news on Covid-19

By Minh Cuong, Nguyen Hai   April 7, 2020 | 03:00 am PT
Hanoi to jail those spreading fake news on Covid-19
A police officer (L) completes a record on a man who spreads fake news on Covid-19 fight in Cam Pha District of Quang Ninh Province in northern Vietnam, April 2, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Bao Long.
Hanoi police will launch criminal investigations that could lead to jail terms of up to seven years for those posting false Covid-19 information.

The police department in the capital city said many people have made use of the complicated development of the Covid-19 pandemic to spread false information on social media to generate likes, views and shares.

This has sowed confusion among people and made it more difficult to take preventive action against the novel coronavirus, the department said.

To tighten control over the propagation of fake news, Hanoi police will launch criminal investigations into suspects.

Anyone posting fraudulent information on the Covid-19 disease causing negative impacts on the public’s response will be investigated for "illegally posting or using information on computer networks and telecommunication networks," an offense that carries a maximum prison term of seven years.

In case anyone spreads personal and private information or insults the dignity and honor of health workers on the frontline of the epidemic fight, as well as of patients and suspects, they will be investigated for "insulting others" and face a jail term of up to five years.

Police and other Hanoi authorities have called on residents to be more discerning about the information they receive, and follow official sources on the epidemic in Vietnam.

Ever since the Covid-19 broke out in Vietnam, police in Hanoi have handled more than 70 cases of spreading fake news. Other localities have reported hundreds of such cases, too.

Not a single person has faced criminal charges so far, though many have been fined VND10-15 million ($427- 641) under a decree on administrative violations of post and telecommunications, information technology and radio frequency regulations.

Last month, Vietnam’s Supreme People’s Court asked all civil and military courts across the country to apply Article 240 in the 2015 Penal Code against those escaping quarantine and making false health declarations in the context of the country entering a critical stage in its Covid-19 fight.

Those making fraudulent medical declarations when returning to Vietnam from Covid-19 stricken areas can be jailed for up to five years.

Vietnam has recorded 245 cases of Covid-19 and 117 have been discharged from hospitals.

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