Over 40 scholars and researchers have called on Bob Carr, the Australian Minister of Foreign Affairs, to take stronger action. While acknowledging efforts to date, the letter states “As concerned citizens and engaged scholars…we have seen the limits of a quiet approach, and now appeal to the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to take a more assertive stand on Sombath Somphone’s disappearance…”
Specifically, the signatories call on the Australian government to:
- Make a public statement about Sombath Somphone’s disappearance, calling on the Lao government to do everything in its power to account for his disappearance without further delay;
- Place the plight of Sombath Somphone at the front end of all Australian trade, investment, and donor discussions with the Lao PDR, until Mr. Somphone is located and released to his family;
- Request the Lao authorities to publicly reaffirm the legality and legitimacy of the work being done by Lao civil society in favour of sustainable development and social justice, in order to counter the serious intimidation which has been provoked by Sombath Somphone’s disappearance;
- Continue to impress upon the Lao authorities the need to meet their obligations under International Human Rights Law, and to uphold the rule of law within Laos as affirmed under the Constitution of the Lao PDR, amended in 2003.
The full appeal can be read here.