Updates on Sombath Samphone

It has been ten months since the enforced disappearance of Mr. Sombath Somphone, a human rights activist and “one of the most respected and influential voices for sustainable people-centered and just economic and social development in Laos.”  Mr. Somphone was last seen in Vientiane on the evening of 15 December 2012 when he was driving home in his jeep.  CCTV footage became two days after his disappearance showing Sombath being stopped by police and then abducted.

Human rights groups and advocates across the globe are showing great concern on the continued disappearance of Mr. Somphone. Several parliaments released statements addressed to the Government of Laos and filed questions on the critical subject. See here the selection of statements and appeals: http://sombath.org/statements/

In August 2013, a European Parliamentary visit was conducted in Laos and most recently on 28 October 2013, a second delegation from the European Parliament met with a number of Lao officials and ministers including Phongsavath Boupha, head of Laos’ national steering committee on human rights. The visits stemmed from rights groups urging sustained pressure on Vientiane to secure the safe return of Mr. Somphone.


In January 2013, a delegation of ASEAN parliamentarians visited the Lao Peoples’ Democratic Republic to investigate the disappearance of Mr. Somphone. The parliamentarians went at the request of AEPF. After the visit, Rep. Walden Bello, Member of the House of Representatives of the Republic of the Philippines, released the statement on behalf of the delegation. (read the statement in full here: http://focusweb.org/content/statement-rep-walden-bello-preliminary-findings-asean-parliamentary-delegation-lao-pdr )

MFA continues to seek the support of our parliamentarian partners and civil society in continuing its appeal to the Government of Laos to step up its investigation on Mr. Somphone’s enforced disappearance and facilitate his eventual return to his loved ones.

Background: Migrant Forum in Asia sent a series of updates to its parliamentarian partners late last year and early this year regarding the case of Mr. Somphone where we called on for appeals for his immediate return and fair investigation of his abduction and disappearance.

MFA requested parliamentarians to endorse letters addressed to the Government of Laos, urging the latter to initiate an investigation on Sombath’s disappearance. MFA partner networks and organizations Asia-Europe People’s Forum (AEPF), Focus on the Global South, and FORUM-ASIA coordinated efforts to deliver the urgent message to the Government of Laos.  To view past listserv messages on Sombath Somphone, click here:  http://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/asianparliamentarians/info