Sombath Somphone, 6 years on

Disappeared in Laos but not forgotten in ASEAN

10:30am, Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Bangkok Art and Culture Center (BACC), Bangkok

Friends of BACC room, 6th floor

Lao civil society leader Sombath Somphone disappeared on the evening of 15 December 2012, after being stopped at a police checkpoint on a busy street of Vientiane, Laos. Footage from a CCTV camera near the police checkpoint showed that unknown individuals forced Sombath into another vehicle and drove away in the presence of police officers. Sombath has never been seen again. His fate or whereabouts remain unknown to this day.

Six years after Sombath Somphone’s disappearance, what has been done to safely return Sombath? What are the regional implications of his disappearance? What are the next steps?

A panel of four distinguished speakers will answer these questions and provide an update on the quest for truth and justice for Sombath Somphone’s disappearance.

  • Ms. Shui-Meng Ng: Spouse of Sombath Somphone
  • Mr. Edmund Bon: Malaysia’ s representative to the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights
  • Ms. Premrudee Daoroung: Project SEVANA South-East Asia Coordinator
  • Mr. Charles Santiago: Malaysian Member of Parliament (via Skype)

Moderated by FIDH (International Federation for Human Rights)

Sombath Somphone Five Years On

This press conference was held at the Foreign Correspondent’s Club of Thailand on 07 December 2017. Speakers included:

Ng Shui Meng: Former Deputy Representative for UNICEF Laos 2000 to 2004; wife of Sombath Somphone

Charles Santiago: Member of Parliament, Selangor Malaysia; Chairperson, ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights

Anne-Sophie Gindroz: Former Country Director of Helvetas; author of “Laos, the Silent Repression”

Moderator: Phil Robertson, Deputy Director, Human Rights Watch Asia Division

The full video can be seen here.

Open letter on repeal of decree on associations No. 238

International Commission of Jurists: 13 December 2017

H.E. Mr. Thongloun Sisoulith, Prime Minister

Prime Minister’s Office, Vientiane, Lao People’s Democratic Republic


H.E. Mr. Bounnhang Vorachith, President

President’s Office, Vientiane, Lao People’s Democratic Republic


H.E. Mr. Xaysi Santivong, Minister of Justice

Ministry of Justice, Vientiane, Lao People’s Democratic Republic\


13 December 2017


Dear H.E. Mr. Thongloun Sisoulith, H.E. Mr. Bounnhang Vorachith and H.E. Mr. Xaysi Santivong,




The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), the Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (Forum-Asia), ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR), the International Service for Human Rights (ISHR), The Centre for Civil and Political Rights (CCPR-Centre) and World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT)  express deep alarm about the issuing and coming into force of the Decree on Associations (No. 238 of 2017) (‘the Decree’) in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR). Continue reading “Open letter on repeal of decree on associations No. 238”

Sombath Somphone Five Years On

Press Conference: Sombath Somphone Five Years On: Demands for Truth and Justice Continue

And film Screening: The Disappearance of Sombath Somphone

10am and 6.30pm, Thursday December 07, 2017

Press Conference: Sombath Somphone Five Years On: Demands for Truth and Justice Continue

Time: 10 am-12 pm

Place: Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand

December 15th will mark five years since Sombath Somphone, Magsaysay Laureate and Lao civil society leader, was abducted in full view of traffic police and CCTV cameras on a busy Vientiane street. Lao Authorities maintain their investigation continues, even though they have provided no information either publicly or privately in four and one-half of those five years.

While donor support for the development of Lao civil society organisations has increased significantly, so have government restrictions, including numerous arrests, harsh sentences, and a more stringent decree on Non-Profit Associations in the past year alone. A climate of fear and self-censorship prevails among local groups, as well as donors and other international organisations.

Panelists will revisit the conditions surrounding Sombath’s enforced disappearance, and explore what has, and has not, happened since that time.


Ng Shui Meng: Former Deputy Representative for UNICEF Laos 2000 to 2004; wife of Sombath Somphone

Charles Santiago: Member of Parliament, Selangor Malaysia; Chairperson, ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights

Anne-Sophie Gindroz: Former Country Director of Helvetas; author of “Laos, the Silent Repression”

Moderator: Phil Robertson, Deputy Director, Human Rights Watch Asia Division


Film Screening: The Disappearance of Sombath Somphone
Length: 53 minutes

Time: 6.30 – 8.30 pm

Place: Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand

The Disappearance of Sombath Somphone” is a new documentary film [2017] that looks at Sombath’s life and times, and the events leading up to his disappearance in 2012. Featuring interviews with his wife, Shui-Meng Nag, Lao PDR historian Martin Stuart-Fox, and former European Union Ambassador to Lao PDR, David Lipman, and others.

The film will be introduced by Ng Shui Meng, wife of Sombath Somphone. The screening will be followed by an informal discussion.

Both events are co-organized by The Sombath Initiative, Human Rights Watch, FIDH, ICJ
and APHR.

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. Continue reading “UN Statement: Enforced Disappearances in Asia”

What is…Enforced Disappearance in Lao PDR?

Logo-What isBriefing paper prepared by the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ)


“The phenomenon of enforced disappearances […] is the worst of all violations of human rights. It is certainly a challenge to the very concept of human rights, denial of the right for humans to have an existence, an identity. Enforced disappearance transforms humans into non-beings. It is the ultimate corruption, abuse of power that allows those responsible to transform law and order into something ridiculous and to commit heinous crimes.” Niall MacDermot, Secretary General of the International Commission of Jurists (1970-1990) (1)

ICJThe International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (ICPPED) defines “enforced disappearance” as:

The arrest, detention, abduction or any other form of deprivation of liberty by agents of the State or by persons or groups of persons acting with the authorization, support or acquiescence of the State, followed by a refusal to acknowledge the deprivation of liberty or by concealment of the fate or whereabouts of the disappeared.

Between 1994 and 2012, eight cases of reported enforced disappearance in Lao PDR were referred to the United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID) (2):

Year of alleged ED

Year WGEID transmitted case to Government





A leader of repatriation group

Discontinued by WGEID in 2006



5 members of Lao student movement for democracy

Clarified in 2005/2006



Ms. Kingkeo Phongsely (3)




Mr. Sombath Somphone


While eight cases have been referred to the WGEID, the actual number of enforced disappearances may be higher. There are many reasons why cases may not be reported to the WGEID, including fear of approaching the authorities and/or lack of knowledge of, or access to, the UN mechanisms.

Continue reading “What is…Enforced Disappearance in Lao PDR?”

Mystery surrounds disappearance of Laos man after traffic stop

USA Today: 11 September 2016

Ng Shui Meng, the wife of disappeared Laotian activist Sombath Somphone, stands near a missing person flyer at her crafts shop in Vientiane, Laos. (Photo: Thomas Maresca)

The last time Ng Shui Meng saw her husband, he was driving his beloved vintage American jeep.

That was a December evening almost four years ago, after Sombath Somphone was stopped by traffic police. He never arrived home for dinner.

The disappearance of Sombath, 64, a prominent Lao activist who focused on rural development and reducing poverty, is a persistent reminder of human rights abuses by the communist government here. Continue reading “Mystery surrounds disappearance of Laos man after traffic stop”

Menyelesaikan Permasalahan Pelanggaran HAM di Laos

Pertemuan ASEAN Harus Mengangkat Kasus Hilangnya Pemimpin Sombath Somphone, Penyangkalan Terhadap Kebebasan

BANGKOK, 31 Agustus 2016 – Pada malam pertemuan tahunan pimpinan negara ASEAN di Vientiane, kelompok-kelompok advokasi dan HAM memberikan seruan kepada Pemerintah Laos untuk menangani kasus pelanggaran HAM yang meluas di negara Laos, termasuk kasus penghilangan paksa dan penahanan yang sewenang-wenang. Para pemimpin negara yang hadir memiliki kesempatan unik untuk mengangkat kepedulian mereka terhadap pelanggaran HAM selama pertemuan tersebut di Vientiane dari tanggal 6 sampai 8 September. Mereka harus menekan pemerintah Laos untuk menghentikan pelanggaran HAM yang secara konsisten telah meletakkan Laos pada posisi terendah dalam indeks HAM dan pembangunan yang diukur berdasarkan hak asasi warga negara, kebebasan pres, demokrasi, kebebasan beragama, dan transparansi ekonomi.

Logo-Sombath InitiativePada konferensi pers yang diadakan oleh The Sombath Initiative di Foreign Correspondents Club, Bangkok, Thailand, kelompok-kelompok tersebut mempublikasikan satu set dokumen terkait dengan penghilangan paksa pemimpin masyarakat sipil, Sombath Somphone, pembatasan demokrasi dan HAM oleh pemerintah Laos, kurangnya kebebasan berpendapat, kegagalan pemerintah dalam menjalankan kewajiban HAM, dan dampaknya pada bantuan dan investasi asing.
. Continue reading “Menyelesaikan Permasalahan Pelanggaran HAM di Laos”


កិច្ចប្រជុំអាស៊ានគួរសង្កត់ធ្ងន់លើការបាត់ខ្លួនមេដឹកនាំ Sambath Somphone ការបដិសេធសេរីភាព

ទីក្រុងបាងកក ថ្ងៃទី៣១ ខែសីហា ឆ្នាំ២០១៦ – នៅមុនពេលនៃកិច្ចជំនួបកំពូលប្រចាំឆ្នាំនៃមេដឹកនាំអាស៊ាននៅក្នុងទីក្រុងវៀងច័ន្ទ ក្រុមការពារសិទ្ធិមនុស្សបានស្នើសុំឲ្យរដ្ឋាភិបាលនៃសាធារណរដ្ឋប្រជាមានិតឡាវ ធ្វើការប្តេជ្ញាចិត្តក្នុងការដោះស្រាយបញ្ហានៃការរំលោភសិទ្ធិមនុស្សយ៉ាងធំធេងដោយរដ្ឋាភិបាល ជាក់ស្តែងរួមមាន បញ្ហាបាត់ខ្លួនដោយបង្ខំ និងការឃុំខ្លួនតាមទំនើងចិត្ត។ មេដឹកនាំពិភពលោកដែលនឹងចូលរួម មានឱកាសពិសេស ដើម្បីលើកឡើងអំពីបញ្ហាសិទ្ធិមនុស្សនៅក្នុងអំឡុងពេលនៃកិច្ចជំនួបកំពូលអាស៊ាន នៅក្នុងទីក្រុងវៀងច័ន្ទ ចាប់ពីថ្ងៃទី០៦ ដល់ថ្ងៃទី០៨ ខែកញ្ញាខាងមុខនេះ។ ពួកគេគួរគាបសង្កត់ឲ្យរដ្ឋាភិបាលឡាវ បញ្ឈប់ការរំលោភបំពានដែលបានធ្វើឲ្យប្រទេសឡាវស្ថិតនៅចំណាត់ថ្នាក់ទាបក្រោមគេ ក្នុងសន្ទស្សន៍ស្តីពីសិទ្ធិ និងការអភិវឌ្ឍន៍ ដែលធ្វើការវាស់ស្ទង់អំពីសិទ្ធិ សេរីភាពសារព័ត៌មាន លទ្ធិប្រជាធិបតេយ្យ សេរីភាពសាសនា និងតម្លាភាពសេដ្ឋកិច្ច។

Logo-Sombath Initiative

នៅឯសន្និសីទសារកាសែត ដែលរៀបចំដោយក្រុមអង្គការឯករាជ្យ The Sombath Initiative នៅក្លឹបអ្នកកាសែតបរទេសនៃប្រទេសថៃ ក្នុងទីក្រុងបាងកក ក្រុមអង្គការនេះបានចេញផ្សាយនូវសំណុំឯកសារពិស្តា ស្តីពីបញ្ហាបាត់ខ្លួនដោយការបង្ខំនូវរូបលោក Sombath Somphone មេដឹកនាំសង្គមស៊ីវិល, ការរឹតបន្តឹងរបស់ប្រទេសឡាវចំពោះលទ្ធិប្រជាធិបតេយ្យ និងសិទ្ធិមនុស្ស, ភាពខ្វះខាតនៃសេរីភាពបញ្ចេញមតិ, បរាជ័យក្នុងបំពេញកាតព្វកិច្ចសិទ្ធិមនុស្ស, ផលប៉ះពាល់នៃការវិនិយោគទុន និងជំនួយបរទេស។
Continue reading “ដំណោះស្រាយចំពោះបញ្ហារំលោភសិទ្ធិមនុស្សនៅក្នុងប្រទេសឡាវ”



(2016年8月31日、バンコク発) 東南アジア諸国連合(アセアン)がラオス人民民主共和 国の首都ビエンチャンで年次首脳会談を開催するに先立ち、人権団体をはじめ複数の NGO は、 ラオス政府に対して、国内で多発する強制失踪や不当逮捕などの人権問題に真剣に取り組むよ う呼びかけた。9 月 6 日から 8 日、ビエンチャンで開催されるアセアン首脳会談は、世界の指 導者たちが公式の場で人権問題への関心を表明する絶好の機会である。世界の指導者たちは、 権利の尊重、報道の自由、民主主義、信教の自由、財政の透明性といった人権・開発指標で常 に下位にランクされるラオスに対して、その元凶である人権侵害を根絶するよう働きかけるべ きである

Logo-Sombath Initiative8 月 31 日、バンコクのタイ外国人記者クラブで主催した会見の席で、ソムバット・イニシアテ ィブのメンバーは、社会活動家ソムバット・ソムポーン氏の強制失踪事件をはじめ、ラオスに おける民主主義と人権の制限、表現の自由への介入、人権擁護義務の不履行、海外からの開発 援助や投資の影響をまとめたブリーフィング・ペーパーを公表した。

Continue reading “ラオスの人権問題に取り組みを”