My dearest Sombath,
This letter is one of the most difficult letters I have to write to you. It’s difficult because I have been so emotionally drained over the last two days following the live broadcast of the Lao Government’s initial report to the UN Committee for Human Rights in Geneva on its implementation of the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).
Of most interest to me is of course to hear answers to the questions posed by the expert panel of the UN Human Rights Committee on your enforced disappearance 66 months ago on 15 December 2012. Sixty-six long months have passed and I am still waiting for information about what happened to you on that fateful night. Not one day has passed that I did not hope and pray that you will come back to me safely.
So for me this hearing in Geneva was a long-awaited and very important event. The committee members had posed very specific questions to the Lao Delegation. These questions included the status of the investigation into your disappearance, and how regular and what specific information of the investigation were provided to the family and the public. The Committee also asked about the availability of any effective remedy for complainants, and also whether the Government will consider requesting technical assistance from other countries to assist with the analysis and review the CCTV footages. Additionally, the panel also asked whether the state/party would ensure that the court will issue a document to the family confirming your disappearance. Finally the panel also asked whether the Government would establish a commission to carry out an independent, impartial and effective investigation into your case and that of other cases of disappearance.
Sombath, I had hope that with such specific questions, the Lao Delegation would have to provide more information on your case. Unfortunately, I heard nothing new in the responses from the Lao Delegation, except what had already been repeated many times over the past few years that the investigation is still ongoing. The Lao spokesperson also refused offers of technical assistance, saying the police are capable to conduct the investigation themselves. Finally he said that this case was “complex” and it might take many years to resolve.
Then the Head of the Lao Delegation, instead of answering any of the specific questions raised on your case, went on a lengthy and vicious attack on your character, insinuating that you had amassed massive wealth in a questionable manner. Sombath, his remarks shocked and devastated me. Coming from the Head of the Delegation and Chair of the National Steering Committee for Human Rights, his malicious remarks were not only false and uncalled for, but they were also completely unprofessional, and unethical.
Later, I was somewhat comforted when friends from the Human Rights community reassured me that these accusations are irrelevant to the queries posed about your case. They reassured me that the Lao Government remains accountable and obligated under the requirements of the ICCPR Covenant to resolve your enforced disappearance as a serious human rights crime. As such, the international community will continue to press the Lao Government to thoroughly investigate your disappearance, find you, return you safely to me, and to bring the abductors to justice.
My dearest Sombath, I can assure you that I too will keep pressing for answers until you come home. I remain hopeful that truth will be revealed one day, and justice will be rendered to you and I.
Meanwhile, I will continue to pray for your good health and safety.
Love you and miss you so much.