Laos faces rebuff in UN council seat push

Bangkok Post: 29 August 2013

The Lao government’s inaction on the disappearance of activist Sombath Sompone would hinder the country’s quest for membership of the United Nations Human Rights Council, a member of the European Union (EU) parliament said yesterday.

Soren Sondergaard, an EU parliamentarian, said Lao authorities told him during his recent visit to the land-locked country they felt sorry about Mr Sombath’s disappearancebut they did not seem to take any action on the matter.

It was a disappointment that the Lao regime remained in a state of denial, said Mr Sondergaard, from Denmark.

Although it was still unknown whether state officials were involved in his disappearance, it was the regime’s responsibility to investigate this case, he said.

Mr Sondergaard’s delegation, which included a Belgian adviser and an Indonesian activist, paid a three-day visit to Laos earlier this week.

The group met Saysomphone Phomvilhane, vice-president of the National Assembly; Sayakane Sisouvang, permanent secretary for foreign affairs; and Sisavath Khamsaly, deputy director-general of the Lao Foreign Ministry’s Department of Europe and America.

Mr Sombath, a well-respected leader in education and sustainable development in Laos and recipient of the 2005 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership, disappeared on the evening of Dec 15 last year in Vientiane. Continue reading “Laos faces rebuff in UN council seat push”