84 concerned parties

Please-return-SombathFebruary 13, 2013

Minister of The Prime Minister’s Office
President of The National Assembly
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Minister of Public Security
Vientiane, Lao Peoples’ Democratic Republic


ASEAN Secretary General
ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights
EU Subcommittee on Human Rights

Re:       Status of investigation into the disappearance of Mr. Sombath Somphone

Dear Madams and Sirs:

We write to you once again with deepening urgency. It has now been almost two months since Mr. Sombath Somphone, founder and former Director of PADETC, was abducted from in front of a police post in Vientiane. Since that time, the Lao Government has claimed that authorities are seriously investigating the matter to arrive at the truth.

We note with great regret that to date, the Lao Government has provided virtually no meaningful updates about the investigation. On the contrary, reports from Vientiane indicate that false and slanderous rumours are being spread about why Mr. Sombath may have disappeared. Sombath Somphone is deeply respected both nationally and internationally for his integrity, honesty and service to his country. Suggestions of personal or business conflicts should be substantiated with credible evidence, or retracted and rejected. Such minimal standards of legal process are surely Mr Sombath’s due as a Lao citizen.

Mr. Sombath’s abduction and the lack of progress of the official investigation has received tremendous international attention and is tarnishing the reputation of the Lao PDR, placing the country’s international profile in serious jeopardy. As noted by the Lao Ambassador in Geneva, the Lao PDR is State party to seven core UN Human Rights Conventions and two Optional Protocols, and signatory to the Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance. A résolution adopted by the European Parliament on February 7 calls on Lao Authorities to “undertake prompt, transparent and thorough investigations, in accordance with their obligations under international human rights law, and to ensure the immediate and safe return of Sombath Somphone to his family;”

We once again urge the Lao Government to act in good faith, expedite its investigation into Mr. Sombath’s abduction, and provide his family with meaningful updates on the progress of the investigation.

Swift actions by the Lao Government on this matter and the safe return of Mr. Sombath will surely bring credit to the country.


  1. Alec Bamford, Thailand
  2. All India Forum of Forest Movements, India
  3. AKSI, Indonesia
  4. Andrew Bartlett, United Kingdom
  5. Andrew Nette, Australia
  6. Angela Savage, Australia
  7. Anne-Sophie Gindroz, Indonesia
  8. Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA), Thailand
  9. Bank Information Centre, USA
  10. Bert Cacayan, Terres des homes Germany, Philippines
  11. Brett M. Ballard, USA
  12. Brian Angelo Lim, Singapore
  13. Bruce Shoemaker, USA
  14. Carl Middleton, Faculty of Political Science, Chulalongkorn University, Thailand
  15. Centre for Civil Society, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
  16. Centre for Environmental Justice/Friends of the Earth, Sri Lanka
  17. Centre for Human Rights and Development, Mongolia
  18. Centre for Sustainable Development (CENESTA), Iran
  19. Chanida Bamford, Thailand
  20. Chris Greacen, USA
  21. Chris Lang, Indonesia
  22. Cheng Shuling, China
  23. Dani Setiawan, Anti Debt Coalition (KAU), Indonesia
  24. Don Macleod, United Kingdom
  25. Ellen Agger, Canada
  26. Emma Glesen, New Zealand
  27. Femy Pinto, Philippines
  28. FIAN International, Germany
  29. Finnish NGO Platform KEPA, Finland
  30. Focus on the Global South, Thailand, India and Philippines
  31. Forest Peoples Programme, United Kingdom
  32. Fresh Eyes–People to People Travel, United Kingdom
  33. Gary Lee, Australia
  34. Global Witness, United Kingdom
  35. Grainne Ryder, Canada
  36. Herman Kumara Wijethunge, National Fisheries Solidarity Movement (NAFSO) Sri Lanka
  37. Hozue Hatae, Friends of the Earth Japan, Japan
  38. International Accountability Project, USA
  39. International Rivers, USA
  40. Jacquelyn Chagnon, USA
  41. Jenina Joy Chavez, Philippines
  42. Jeremy Ironside, New Zealand
  43. Jim Enright, Mangrove Action Project, Asia Regional Office, Thailand
  44. Joan Carling, Secretary General, Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact, Thailand
  45. Jon Ungphakorn, Thailand
  46. Jubilee South-Asia/Pacific Movement on Debt & Development, Philippines
  47. Karen Janigan, Canada
  48. Karin Downs, Mass. Dept. of Public Health, USA
  49. Keith Barney, Australian National University, Australia
  50. Ken Kampe, USA
  51. Kevin Kamp, USA
  52. Kenji Fukuda, Representative Director, Mekong Watch, Japan
  53. La Via Campesina, South Asia, India
  54. Lam Thi Thu Suu, Vietnam Rivers Network (VRN), Vietnam
  55. Laofang Bundidterdsakul, Lawyer, Thailand
  56. Lisa ter Woort, Canada
  57. Margie Law, Mekong Monitor, Australia
  58. Martin Lemenager, France
  59. Migrant Forum in Asia, Philippines
  60. Mueda Nawanat, Thailand
  61. Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum, Pakistan
  62. Peta Colebatch, Australia
  63. Peter Swift, USA
  64. Philip Hirsch, University of Sydney, Australia
  65. Pierre-Marc Blanchet, France
  66. Pieter Jansen, Both ENDS, Netherlands
  67. Randall Arnst, USA
  68. Randall Ireson, USA
  69. Rebeca Leonard, United Kingdom
  70. Re:Common, Italy
  71. Roger Henke, Netherlands
  72. Roger Rumpf, USA
  73. Rural Poor Institute for Land & Human Rights Services (RIGHTS), Inc., Philippines
  74. Sabrina Kathleen, USA
  75. Samuel Martin, France
  76. Theresa Wong, Singapore
  77. Tipakson Manpati, Thailand
  78. The Cornerhouse, United Kingdom
  79. The Peoples’ Coalition for Fisheries Justice (KIARA), Indonesia
  80. Towards Ecological Recovery & Regional Alliance (TERRA), Thailand
  81. Transnational Institute, Netherlands
  82. Walden Bello, Philippines
  83. Water Initiatives Odisha, India
  84. World Rainforest Movement, Uruguay