Lao Civil Society Leader Still Missing: Where is Sombath?

Sombath Somphone portrait against grey background
Sombath Somphone has been missing since 15 December 2012. Photo: private.

Seven years have passed since the enforced disappearance of Lao civil society leader Sombath Somphone. He was last seen at a police checkpoint on a busy street of the Lao capital, Vientiane, on the evening of 15 December 2012. In a joint statement today, civil society organisations worldwide call on the Lao government to establish a new, independent, and impartial investigative body tasked with determining Sombath’s fate and whereabouts without delay.

Footage from a CCTV camera showed that Sombath’s vehicle was stopped at the police checkpoint where he was last seen. The footage also showed that unknown individuals forced him into another vehicle and drove him away in the presence of police officers. Afterwards, an unknown individual drove Sombath’s vehicle away from the city centre.

The fact that police officers were present at and witnessed Sombath’s abduction and failed to intervene strongly indicates state agents’ involvement in, or acquiescence to, Sombath’s disappearance.

Until Sombath Somphone’s fate and whereabouts are revealed, the international community should not stop demanding that Sombath be safely returned to his family and keep asking the Lao government: “Where is Sombath?”

Read the full joint statement here.

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