The final declaration of the 10th Asia-Europe People’s Forum, held in Milan, Italy on the 10th to 12th of October, has been released. Below is an except about Sombath. The full statement can be read here, or on the website of the Transnational Institute.
On December 15 2014, it will be two years since the enforced disappearance of Sombath Somphone. Sombath was one of the main organisers of AEPF9 held in Vientiane just before ASEM10. Sombath, a Magsaysay Award winner, is one of the most respected people in ASEAN working for sustainable development. Sombath’s abduction on December 12, 2012 was captured by a CCTV camera. The footage shows that his jeep was stopped in front of a police booth. After he voluntarily went to the booth, a third person came and drove the jeep away. He was seen next being taken away in a pickup truck. Since then, the Lao Government has provided no meaningful information to Sombath’s family, friends and the public about his abduction and continuing disappearance. Instead, successive statements and actions by the Lao Government indicate a continuing denial of its basic responsibility and obligations.
The Lao PDR depends heavily on international aid and in the lead up to its annual Roundtable scheduled for November 2014, the Lao Government is requesting even more financial support from the international community.
Enforced disappearance is never an internal matter in any country. It is a contravention of international law and widely recognised to be a crime against humanity. Sombath’s family and friends and the people of Laos have the right to the truth, to know what happened to Sombath. Sombath and his family have the right to justice.
We remind all ASEM member states of their human rights obligations, both domestically and internationally. We sincerely demand the Lao Government to complete their investigation into Sombath’s disappearance, make public the investigation report, and take forward the legal process against the perpetrators of the crime. We urge ASEM member states to monitor the fulfilment of these demands and ensure that Sombath and his family receive the justice that is surely their right and that he is returned safely to his family.