Huge number of NGOs call on Laos to investigate Sombath’s disappearance one year on

December 13, 2013

62 regional and international organizations expressed their outrage over the Lao Government’s ongoing failure to shed light on the enforced disappearance of prominent human rights defender Sombath Somphone. Sunday 15 December 2013 will mark the one-year anniversary of Sombath’s disappearance. Sombath was last seen on the evening of December 15, 2012 in Vientiane. Closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage showed that police stopped Sombath’s car at a police post. Within minutes after being stopped, unknown individuals forced him into another vehicle and drove away. Analysis of the CCTV footage shows that Sombath was taken away in the presence of police officers. This fact supports a finding of government complicity. Despite the Lao Government’s pledge to “thoroughly and seriously” investigate Sombath’s disappearance, the authorities’ probe has been inadequate and unproductive and there has been no progress in the investigation.

Sombath’s enforced disappearance is not an isolated incident. To this day, the whereabouts of nine people, two women, Kingkeo and Somchit, as well as seven men, SoubinhSouaneSinpasongKhamsoneNou,Somkhit, and Sourigna, arbitrarily detained by Lao security forces in November 2009 in various locations across the country remain unknown. The nine had planned peaceful demonstrations calling for democracy and respect of human rights. Also unknown are the whereabouts of Somphone Khantisouk, the owner of an ecotourism guesthouse and an outspoken critic of Chinese-sponsored agricultural projects that were damaging the environment in the northern province of Luang Namtha. He disappeared after uniformed men abducted him in January 2007. Signed by:

1.      Alternative ASEAN Network on Burma (Altsean-Burma)

2.      Armanshahr/OPEN ASIA, Afghanistan

3.      ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR)

4.      Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)

5.      Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM), India

6.      Boat People SOS

7.      Burma Partnership

8.      Bytes for All, Pakistan

9.      Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee, Cambodia

10.   Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC), Cambodia

11.   Cambodian Volunteers for Society, Cambodia

12.   Campaign for a Life of Dignity for All (KAMP), Philippines

13.   Centre for Human Rights and Development (CHRD), Mongolia

14.   Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence (KontraS), Indonesia

15.   Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia (COMFREL), Cambodia

16.   FIDH (International Federation for Human Rights)

17.   Front Line Defenders

18.   Gender and Development Advocates (GANDA) Filipinas, Philippines

19.   Globe International Center, Mongolia

20.   Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), Pakistan

21.   Human Rights Defenders Alert, India

22.   Human Rights Education Institute of Burma (HREIB), Burma

23.   Human Rights Working Group (HRWG), Indonesia

24.   Imparsial, Indonesia

25.   Indonesian Legal Aid and Human Rights Association (PBHI), Indonesia

26.   Indonesia Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI), Indonesia

27.   Informal Sector Service Center (INSEC), Nepal

28.   INFORM Human Rights Documentation Centre, Sri Lanka

29.   Institute for Legal Consultation and People Advocacy of North Sumatera (BAKUMSU), Indonesia

30.   ISchool-Myanmar, Burma

31.   Judicial System Monitoring Program (JSMP), Timor Leste

32.   Justice for Peace Foundation, Thailand

33.   Knights for Peace, Int’l

34.   Koalisi Perempuan Indonesia, Indonesia

35.   Lao Movement for Human Rights (LMHR)

36.   Law and Society Trust (LST), Sri Lanka

37.   League for the Defence of Human Rights in Iran (LDDHI)

38.   Life Skills Development Foundation, Thailand

39.   Odhikar, Bangladesh

40.   People’s Empowerment Foundation (PEF), Thailand

41.   People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy (PSPD), South Korea

42.   People’s Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR), India

43.   People’s Watch, India

44.   Programme Against Custodial Torture and Impunity (PACTI), India

45.   Sawit Watch, Indonesia

46.   Sehjira Deaf/HoH Foundation, Indonesia

47.   Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC), Pakistan

48.   Solidarity for Asian Peoples’ Advocacies Working Group on ASEAN (SAPA WG on ASEAN)

49.   South East Asian Committee for Advocacy (SEACA)

50.   Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SAPA)

51.   Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM), Malaysia

52.   Taiwan Association for Human Rights, (TAHR), Taiwan

53.   Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP), Philippines

54.   Think Centre, Singapore

55.   Thinzar Shunlei Yi Myanmar, Burma

56.   Timor Leste National Alliance for International Tribunal (ANTI), Timor Leste

57.   Union for Civil Liberty (UCL), Thailand

58.   Vietnam Committee on Human Rights (VCHR)

59.   WomanHealth Philippines, Philippines

60.   World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT)

61.   Yayasan Mandiri Kreatif Indonesia, Indonesia

62.   Yayasan Transformasi Lepra Indonesia, Indonesia

Lao Peoples Democ. Rep.: Sombath Somphone one year on: 62 NGOs call for a new investigation into his enforced disappearance / December 13, 2013 / Urgent Interventions / Human rights defenders / OMCT.

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