Press Release: The Sombath Initiative
A petition spearheaded by the Sombath Initiative calls on governments and the UN Human Rights Council to put the enforced disappearance of Sombath Somphone at the centre of the Universal Periodic Review for the Lao PDR.
Endorsed by 145 organisations from six continents, and sent to over 40 missions to the United Nations in Geneva, the petition asserts the disappearance of Sombath Somphone parallels a decisive reversal in democratic space, signals a deterioration of the human rights situation throughout the country, and is the most visible manifestation of a broader and deeper malaise pervading the Lao PDR.
One of the most eminent and respected civil society leaders in Laos, Sombath was abducted on 15 December 2012 in front of a police post on a busy street in the capital city. His abduction and the lack of progress in investigating the crime has triggered widespread international concern and condemnation.
After visiting Lao authorities in September last year, Charles Santiago, Malaysian MP, President of ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights, and member of the Sombath Initiative Advisory Board, said “The Lao authorities have erected a brick wall of silence on this investigation, so much so that the only intelligent conclusion is that there is in fact no investigation taking place at all.”
More recently, Walden Bello, Member of the Philippine House of Representatives and another Advisory Board member, urged Lao authorities “to listen to international opinion and produce and release Sombath Somphone.”