PRESS BRIEFING: 3rd Parliamentary Delegation to the Lao PDR

PRESS BRIEFING: Findings of the 3rd Parliamentary Delegation to the Lao PDR on the enforced disappearance of Sombath Somphone

Please-return-SombathSombath Somphone, a widely-respected leader in education and sustainable development in the Lao PDR, and recipient of the 2005 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership, disappeared on the evening of December 15th, 2012 in the Lao capital Vientiane (see ). CCTV footage which became available 2 days later showed Sombath being stopped by traffic police, his car driven away by an unknown person, and then Sombath being taken in a pickup by 2-3 other unidentified persons.  The Lao Government has claimed no knowledge about the abduction or his whereabouts and made public assurances that they are investigating the matter.  However, more than eight months after his disappearance, no meaningful information has been made available by Lao authorities to Sombath’s family and friends about the progress and results of the investigation.

Since January 2013, Sombath’s family and friends, and regional human rights organisations have organised delegations of parliamentarians and civil society networks to go to Vientiane and meet with senior government officials and members of the Lao National Assembly to express their deep concern about the disappearance of Sombath, and discuss possible actions to find Sombath and return him safely to his family.  The third such will be in Vientiane from August 25-27.  On August 28, The delegation will present a report of their discussions and conclusions from their visit at a press briefing at the FCCT on from 10.30 am – 12 noon.

Date:  28 August 2013

Venue:  Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand (FCCT), The Penthouse, Maneeya Centre, 518/5 Ploenchit Road (connected to Chitlom Skytrain station:

Time:  10.30 am – 12 noon


1) Søren Bo Søndergaard has been a member of the European Parliament since 2007.  Søren was a metal worker and teacher before becoming involved in Danish political life.  He was a member of the Danish Parliament between 1994 and 2005 representing the Red-Green Alliance where he was Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Human Rights. During this time he was also a member of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly and was appointed as a member of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly. He then was a city councillor in Gladsaxe, Denmark. In 2007 has was elected as a Member of the European Parliament for the Folkebevægelsen mod EU (People’s Movement against the EU). In the European Parliament he is a member of United Left / Nordic Green Left (GUE / NGL) and since 2009 a member of its Bureau.   He is currently the vice-chair of the Parliament’s Special Committee on Organised Crime, Corruption and Money Laundering.

2) Paul-Emile Dupret is a Belgian lawyer and human rights worker, initially living and working for eight years in Columbia.  He has been active in human rights campaigns concerning latin-american countries, in particular the case of Colombia. Since 1991 he has been working in the European Parliament and is a member of the secretariat of the European Parliament’s United Left Group (GUE-NGL), acting as adviser on culture policies and development policies. He is now acting advisor on international issues for the same political group.

3) Mugiyanto is a survivor of enforced disappearance in Indonesia in early 1998 when it was still under authoritarian rule. He is the Chairperson of the Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD) and the Indonesian Association of Families of the Disappeared (IKOHI).   AFAD is a regional federation of human rights organizations working directly on the issue of enforced disappearances.  Based in the Philippines, it has 11 member-organizations located in Asian countries such as Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Nepal, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Timor-Leste.  It conducts campaign, lobby, solidarity, direct assistance work on the theme of enforced disappearances.  AFAD is a founding member and Focal Point of  ICAED the International Coalition Against Enforced Disappearances which has 50 member- organizations from various parts of the world.