Together, ARTICLE 19 and 74 signatories stand in solidarity with Sombath Somphone’s family and all other victims of enforced disappearances in Laos. The undersigned calls on the Lao authorities to determine the fate or whereabouts of all victims of enforced disappearances in Laos, identify the perpetrators of such serious crimes, and provide victims with an effective remedy and full reparations.
Sombath Somphone, a civil society leader, was last seen at a police checkpoint on a busy street in Vientiane on the evening of 15 December 2012. Footage from a CCTV camera showed that police stopped Sombath’s vehicle at the checkpoint and that, within minutes, unknown individuals forced him into another vehicle and drove him away in the presence of police officers. CCTV footage also showed an unknown individual later arriving and driving Sombath’s vehicle away from the city centre. The presence of police officers at Sombath’s abduction and their failure to intervene is prima facie evidence of the involvement of state agents’ participation in Sombath’s fate, rendering it a presumptive case of enforced disappearance.
Numerous United Nations (UN) member states and human rights monitoring mechanisms have repeatedly expressed concern over his enforced disappearance and urged the Lao government to conduct a prompt and effective investigation into this grave human rights violation and crime under international law.
The call for accountability has been pressed non for the last 10 years. Civil society worldwide will not stop demanding the truth until Sombath is found and justice is delivered for him and his family. The undersigned asks a simple question to the Lao government: “Where is Sombath?”