The EU Delegation to the Lao PDR…

…has not yet shared the European Parliament Resolution on Laos, either on their Facebook page or website.

If this is simply an oversight, it should be rectified as quickly as possible.

Excerpts include:

The European Parliament:

Strongly condemns the prison sentences against Somphone Phimmasone, Soukane Chaithad and Lod Thammavong, and calls for their immediate release;

Notes with concern that these verdicts add to a list of arrests and forced disappearances of activists and protesters who have expressed critical views on issues ranging from land disputes to allegations of corruption and abuse of power;

Reiterates its call on the Government of Laos to stop the harassment and arbitrary arrest and detention of human rights defenders, independent journalists and social activists, and to respect the rights of free expression and association and the rights of minorities; reminds Laos of its international obligations under the human rights treaties it has ratified;

Urges the Laotian Government to respect its international commitments and protect freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, and to ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance which Laos signed in 2008;

Is gravely concerned at the widespread human rights abuses, including enforced disappearances and absence of fair trial; calls on the Lao authorities to meet their international human rights obligations by immediately accounting for the whereabouts of at least 10 missing individuals, including Sombath Somphone and Sompawn Khantisouk, and providing details of the charges brought and evidence produced against imprisoned activists;

The full resolution can be seen here.

UN Statement: Enforced Disappearances in Asia

ICJ: 11 September 2017

The ICJ today delivered an oral statement at the UN Human Rights Council, on the need for criminalisation and other effective measures against enforced disappearances in Asia.

The statement, which was delivered in an interactive dialogue with the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, read as follows:

“Mr President,

The ICJ echoes the Working Group’s recommendation that States should criminalize all acts of enforced disappearance, including enforced disappearances of migrants, which should be punished by appropriate penalties, taking into account their extreme seriousness. (more…)

Renewed Focus on Lao Activist on International Day of Victims of Enforced Disappearances

RFA: 30 August 2017

A display to mark the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances in the Thai capital Bangkok, Dec. 30, 2017 (Note: The event was about enforced disappearance in Thailand, and did not address Sombath or Laos specifically.)

Supporters of Sombath Somphone renewed their focus on the missing rural development activist on Wednesday, using the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances to press Laos to solve the nearly five-year-old mystery of his disappearance.

Video footage show’s Sombath’s Jeep being stopped at a police checkpoint on the evening of Dec. 15, 2012. In the video Sombath is herded into a white truck and taken away, and a man dressed in white returns and drives off in his Jeep.

Soon after he was kidnapped, police promised to investigate, but Lao authorities soon backtracked, saying they could no longer confirm whether the man in the video footage was actually Sombath. (more…)

There is no valid excuse not to ratify the Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance

OHCHR: 29 August 2017

(Note: The Lao PDR has twice promised to ratify this convention in its Universal Periodic Review, but it has not yet done so.)

At a time when enforced disappearance is practiced in every region, and in many countries is increasing, a group of UN human rights experts* urge all Member States to ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.

To mark the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances, the UN experts highlight: “It is inadmissible that in 2017, enforced disappearances continue to happen. Every day we receive new cases of persons subjected to enforced disappearances across the world. When this happens, the life of entire families breaks in pieces and the very fabric of the society is damaged. This needs to end, and by ratifying the Convention, States can start the path towards achieving this aim”.

“There is no valid excuse for this Convention not to become universally ratified,” said Suela Janina, Vice-Chair of the Committee on Enforced Disappearances. “Following the ratification, States should introduce new legislation and ensure its application in practice”. (more…)

International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearance

International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearance: Human Rights Defenders & the Disappeared Justice

Co-organized by: Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCF), Human Rights Lawyers Association (HRLA), the Esaan Land Reform, Amnesty International Thailand, and United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commission South-East Asia Regional Office

In the absence of efficient mechanisms for the protection of human rights defenders in Thailand, the cases of enforced disappearances ought to be addressed fairly and immediately. We, the organizers, would like to take this opportunity to commemorate and commend those who fearlessly stood up and defended the rights of others, but are no longer with us. Their legacy and engagement will continue to inspire all of us.

On the occasion of International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearance, which falls on August 30 each year, we wish to reaffirm the significance of the government’s role in promoting and protecting the people’s human rights in compliance with the international standards. In order to find sustainable solutions, this event is also set to provide the possibility for collaboration among all sectors working with the issues on human rights

Time and Location

Wednesday, 30th of August 2017 at 13.00 – 17.00 h, the Student Christian Center, Phayathai Rd, Thanon Phetchaburi, Ratchathewi, Bangkok

13.00 – 13.30 Registration
13.30 – 13.45 Welcoming remarks by representative of the OHCHR
13.45 – 14.30 ‘Den Kamlae and Forensic Evidence in the Cases of Enforced Disappearance’ by Dr. Pornthip Rojanasunan and the community representative Oranuch Phonpinyo
14.30 – 15.00 ‘The Path of Prevention and Suppression of Torture and Enforced Disappearances Act B.E. …’ by representative of the Ministry of Justice
15.00 – 16.00 A panel discussion on the topic of ‘Enforced Disappearance:

It Happens Everywhere, and the Limited Prosecution Resources under Vague Legislations’ by representative of HRLA, Ankana Neelapaijit and Pinnapha Prueksapan
The Jurisdiction of the Department of Special Investigation and Cases of Enforced Disappearance by representative of the Department of Special Investigation
The Jurisdiction of the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand and Human Rights Defenders by Dr. Niran Pitakwatchara Commissioner of the 2nd batch of NHRC

16.00 – 16.30 Q & A
16.45 The organizers read the joint statement on the occasion of International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearance

NOTE: Thai-English translation will be provided throughout the event