Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances

Rms. 310-311 Philippine Social Science Center Building Commonwealth Avenue, Diliman, 1103 Quezon City Philippines Telefax: 00-632-4546759 Telephone Number 00-632-4907862 Mobile 00-63-9177924058 Email website

15 January 2013 AFAD STATEMENT ON THE DISAPPEARANCE OF HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDER SOMBATH SOMPHONE The Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD) strongly condemns the disappearance of human rights defender and Ramon Magsaysay Awardee Mr. Sombath Somphone. The incident occurred on 15 December 2012. Mr. Sombath was driving in Thadeu Road in Vientiane where his vehicle was stopped by two policemen. He was brought to a police post and questioned. Soon after, an unidentified man arrived on the scene and later on drove Sombath’s vehicle away. The incident which was captured in a video recording from a closed-circuit television revealed that a white pick-up truck arrived on the scene and a group of men escorted Sombath to the truck and drove away. Sombath’s wife, Ng Shui Meng, requested to watch the CCTV footages and was able to record and recount the said incident based on the captured video. A prominent human rights defender, Sombath formed a non-government organization called Participatory Development Training Center (PADETC) in 1996 and was awarded the 2005 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership. He was actively involved in small-scale people-centered socio-economic work in Laos. Suspicions on Sombath’s disappearance were allegedly caused by his contribution in the recently concluded Asia People’s Forum 9 (AEPF9) in Vientiane parallel to the Asia-Europe Summit (ministerial-level). While the Lao government through Ambassador to the UN office in Geneva Yong Chanthalangsy’s statement denying that Sombath was taken under police custody, the Laos government should continue intensifying efforts to investigate the disappearance of Sombath, ensuring its speedy, efficient and transparent investigation. The fate and whereabouts of Sombath must be clearly established and the identity of the perpetrators must also be determined. Corresponding protection should be extended to the family of Mr. Sombath in situations wherein their security might be threatened as a result of increased search for the missing human rights defender. As a signatory of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances (ICPAPED), the Laos government must adhere to principles reflected in the

Convention and exhaust efforts to expose the truth behind Mr. Sombath’s disappearance, and ensure justice while exerting efforts to prevent future disappearances from further occurring in Laos.

Mary Aileen D. Bacalso Secretary General

Mugiyanto Chairperson

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