Posts tagged ‘Sombath Somphone’

April 18, 2014

Sombath Somphon the “Nelson Mandela of Laos,”

 

Kidnapping In Laos Affects Civil Society

Sombath Somphone is “one of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic’s most respected civil society figures,” according  to a December 2013 press statement from Secretary of State John Kerry on the one year anniversary of Sombath’s disappearance. Sombath was kidnapped from a police checkpoint in Laos and has not been heard from since. Sombath’s wife, Ng Shui-Meng, will be speaking about her husband’s disappearance and the challenges to free speech and human rights in Laos and in the rest of Southeast Asia while in Eugene on Monday, April 21.

“Laos has taken steps in recent years to become a responsible partner in the community of nations,” Kerry writes. “Sombath’s abduction threatens to undermine those efforts.”

Ng Shui-Meng says that while some have called Sombath the “Nelson Mandela of Laos,” her husband was never involved in politics. He worked in nonviolence and consensus building, she says, and always worked with the approval of government officials. Sombath established the Participatory Development Training Center in Laos, which works to train young people and local government officials in community-based development.

She says one link to Sombath’s disappearance could be his involvement in the Asia Europe People’s Forum (AEPF9) that took place from Oct. 16 to 19, 2012, in Vientiane, Laos, as part of his civil society work. Civil society groups are non-governmental organizations and other groups working on issues including health, education and living standards in both developed and developing nations.

The forum sought to promote universal social protection and access to essential services, food sovereignty and sustainable land and natural resource management, sustainable energy production and use, and just work and sustainable livelihoods, according to the AEPF9 website.

Ng Shui-Meng, who is also involved in civil society work, is in the U.S. to promote awareness of Sombath’s disappearance in hopes of his safe return, she says. She says she will talk about who her husband is and the type of work he has being doing the last 30 years, what happened the day of his abduction as well as the aftermath and impact on the civil society movement. “In Laos there is not much media freedom, freedom of organization or freedom of assembly,” she says.

Ng Shui-Meng speaks at 6 pm at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 1685 W. 13th Ave.

Video footage of Sombath Somphone’s disappearance Dec. 15, 2012 in Laos.

January 5, 2014

One Year Anniversary of Lao Civil Society Leader Sombath Somphone’s Disappearance

One Year Anniversary of Lao Civil Society Leader Sombath Somphone’s Disappearance

Click on the link to get more news and video from original source: http://www.state.gov/secretary/remarks/2013/12/218730.htm

Press Statement

John Kerry Secretary of State
Washington, DC
December 15, 2013

The United States remains deeply concerned over the fate of Sombath Somphone, one of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic’s most respected civil society figures, on the one-year anniversary of his abduction.

Sombath was abducted on the evening of December 15, 2012, from a Lao police checkpoint in Vientiane. This deplorable event was recorded on Lao Government surveillance cameras.

Our thoughts are with Sombath’s family, friends, and the countless others in the international community who have been inspired by Sombath’s exemplary leadership and devotion to his country.

We welcome the recent statement by Lao President Choummaly Sayasone that the Lao Government is very concerned about Sombath’s disappearance and would continue its investigation and take all measures necessary to resolve the case. We look forward to learning the results of a full, thorough, and transparent investigation.

The United States values its partnership with Laos on a wide range of issues – including unexploded ordnance removal, health, education, combating trafficking in persons, environment, justice reform, counternarcotics, trade, and the search for our missing in action – and we wish to work constructively with Laos to protect human rights and promote the rule of law.

Laos has taken steps in recent years to become a responsible partner in the community of nations. Sombath’s abduction threatens to undermine those efforts.

We call on the government to take all actions possible to ensure his safe return to his family.


PRN: 2013/1581

January 5, 2014

Kerry on Anniversary of Lao Civil Society Leader’s Disappearance

 

Kerry on Anniversary of Lao Civil Society Leader’s Disappearance

15 December 2013

 Click on the link to get more news and video from original source:  http://translations.state.gov/st/english/texttrans/2013/12/20131215288964.html#axzz2pWxfWAnj

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE Office of the Spokesperson December 15, 2013 2013/1581

STATEMENT BY SECRETARY KERRY

One Year Anniversary of Lao Civil Society Leader Sombath Somphone’s Disappearance

The United States remains deeply concerned over the fate of Sombath Somphone, one of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic’s most respected civil society figures, on the one-year anniversary of his abduction.

Sombath was abducted on the evening of December 15, 2012, from a Lao police checkpoint in Vientiane. This deplorable event was recorded on Lao Government surveillance cameras.

Our thoughts are with Sombath’s family, friends, and the countless others in the international community who have been inspired by Sombath’s exemplary leadership and devotion to his country.

We welcome the recent statement by Lao President Choummaly Sayasone that the Lao Government is very concerned about Sombath’s disappearance and would continue its investigation and take all measures necessary to resolve the case. We look forward to learning the results of a full, thorough, and transparent investigation.

The United States values its partnership with Laos on a wide range of issues – including unexploded ordnance removal, health, education, combating trafficking in persons, environment, justice reform, counternarcotics, trade, and the search for our missing in action – and we wish to work constructively with Laos to protect human rights and promote the rule of law.

Laos has taken steps in recent years to become a responsible partner in the community of nations. Sombath’s abduction threatens to undermine those efforts.

We call on the government to take all actions possible to ensure his safe return to his family.

###

Read more: http://translations.state.gov/st/english/texttrans/2013/12/20131215288964.html#ixzz2pWxu5rlY

January 5, 2014

A year on, the enforced disappearance of Sombath Somphone continues with impunity in Lao PDR

A year on, the enforced disappearance of Sombath Somphone continues with impunity in Lao PDR

Click on the link to get more news and video from original source:   http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=14103&LangID=E

GENEVA (16 December 2013) – A group of United Nations human rights experts today urged the Government of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR) to increase its efforts in the investigations into the enforced disappearance on 15 December 2012, of Sombath Somphone, a prominent human right activist working on issues of land confiscation and assisting victims in denouncing such practices.

“Mr. Somphone has been disappeared for one year. We are deeply concerned about his safety and security”, the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances said. “We urge the Government of Lao PDR to do its utmost to locate Mr. Somphone, to establish his fate and whereabouts, and to hold the perpetrators accountable.”

The human rights experts noted that Mr. Somphone was held in police custody following his reported disappearance, according to additional information received that sheds new light on the case. A few days after his disappearance, he was seen inside a police detention centre with his car parked in the police compound.

Two days later, he was reportedly moved to a military camp outside Vientiane, and then transferred again to an unknown location one week later. It was further reported that, a few days following his disappearance, relevant Government officials said that Mr. Somphone would be released.

It has also been reported, the experts pointed out, that the closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage, which recorded the incident of the abduction of Mr. Somphone on 15 December 2012, has not been analysed by any independent body. “We call on the Government of Lao PDR to accept external technical assistance to analyse the original CCTV footage of the incident,” they said.

“Defenders play a key role in promoting human rights and their legitimate work should be fully respected,” the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Margaret Sekaggya, said. “Mr. Somphone’s disappearance might have a chilling effect on human rights defenders operating in the country, owing to his high profile at the national and international levels.”

The Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Maina Kiai, called on the Government of Lao PDR “to fully cooperate with the Human Rights Council and its Special Procedures, particularly as it seeks election to the Human Rights Council for 2016.”

Mr. Maina Kiai expressed deep regret over the lack of response of the Lao PDR to his letters dated 12 December 2011 and 30 October 2013 requesting an invitation to visit the country.

The United Nations Special Rapporteurs are part of what it is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the United Nations Human Rights, is the general name of the independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms of the Human Rights Council that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. They are charged by the Human Rights Council to monitor, report and advise on human rights issues. Currently, there are 37 thematic mandates and 14 mandates related to countries and territories, with 72 mandate holders. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity. Learn more: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/SP/Pages/Welcomepage.aspx

For more information log on to: Enforced disappearances: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Disappearances/Pages/DisappearancesIndex.aspx Freedom of peaceful assembly and of association: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/AssemblyAssociation/Pages/SRFreedomAssemblyAssociationIndex.aspx Human rights defenders: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/SRHRDefenders/Pages/SRHRDefendersIndex.aspx Freedom of opinion and expression: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/FreedomOpinion/Pages/OpinionIndex.aspx

UN Human Rights, Country Page – Lao PDR: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/AsiaRegion/Pages/LAIndex.aspx

For more information and media requests, please contact Karen Blanc (+41 22 917 9400 / kblanc@ohchr.org).

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts: Xabier Celaya, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)

UN Human Rights, follow us on social media: Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/unitednationshumanrights Twitter: http://twitter.com/UNrightswire Google+ gplus.to/unitednationshumanrights YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/UNOHCHR Storify: http://storify.com/UNrightswire

Watch Navi Pillay’s Human Rights Day message: http://youtu.be/dhX-KbVbEQ0

January 4, 2014

Independent UN experts urge Laos to probe disappearance of prominent rights activist

Independent UN experts urge Laos to probe disappearance of prominent rights activist

Click on the link to get more news and video from original source:   https://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=46750&Cr=disappear&Cr1=

16 December 2013 – A group of independent United Nations experts today urged the Government of Laos to boost its investigation into the enforced disappearance a year ago of Sombath Somphone, a prominent human rights activist working on issues of land confiscation and assisting victims in denouncing such practices.

“We are deeply concerned about his safety and security,” the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances said in a news release, urging the Government “to do its utmost to locate Mr. Somphone, to establish his fate and whereabouts, and to hold the perpetrators accountable.”

The experts noted that Mr. Somphone was held in police custody following his reported disappearance, according to additional information received that sheds new light on the case. A few days after his disappearance, he was seen inside a police detention centre with his car parked in the police compound.

Two days later, he was reportedly moved to a military camp outside the capital, Vientiane, and then transferred again to an unknown location one week later. It was further reported that, a few days following his disappearance, relevant Government officials said that Mr. Somphone would be released.

It has also been reported, the experts added, that the closed-circuit television footage, which recorded the incident of the abduction of Mr. Somphone on 15 December 2012, has not been analysed by any independent body.

“Defenders play a key role in promoting human rights and their legitimate work should be fully respected,” the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Margaret Sekaggya, said. “Mr. Somphone’s disappearance might have a chilling effect on human rights defenders operating in the country, owing to his high profile at the national and international levels.”

The Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Maina Kiai, called on Laos to fully cooperate with the Geneva-based Human Rights Council and its experts, and voiced deep regret over the Government’s lack of response to his requests to visit the country.

Independent experts, or special rapporteurs, are appointed by the Human Rights Council to examine and report back on a country situation or a specific human rights theme. The positions are honorary and the experts are not UN staff, nor are they paid for their work.


News Tracker: past stories on this issue

Laos: UN urges Government to ensure safe return of missing human rights defender


A year on, the enforced disappearance of Sombath Somphone continues with impunity in Lao PDR
Click on the link to get more news and video from original source:   http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=14103&LangID=E

GENEVA (16 December 2013) – A group of United Nations human rights experts today urged the Government of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR) to increase its efforts in the investigations into the enforced disappearance on 15 December 2012, of Sombath Somphone, a prominent human right activist working on issues of land confiscation and assisting victims in denouncing such practices.

“Mr. Somphone has been disappeared for one year. We are deeply concerned about his safety and security”, the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances said. “We urge the Government of Lao PDR to do its utmost to locate Mr. Somphone, to establish his fate and whereabouts, and to hold the perpetrators accountable.”

The human rights experts noted that Mr. Somphone was held in police custody following his reported disappearance, according to additional information received that sheds new light on the case. A few days after his disappearance, he was seen inside a police detention centre with his car parked in the police compound.

Two days later, he was reportedly moved to a military camp outside Vientiane, and then transferred again to an unknown location one week later. It was further reported that, a few days following his disappearance, relevant Government officials said that Mr. Somphone would be released.

It has also been reported, the experts pointed out, that the closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage, which recorded the incident of the abduction of Mr. Somphone on 15 December 2012, has not been analysed by any independent body. “We call on the Government of Lao PDR to accept external technical assistance to analyse the original CCTV footage of the incident,” they said.

“Defenders play a key role in promoting human rights and their legitimate work should be fully respected,” the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Margaret Sekaggya, said. “Mr. Somphone’s disappearance might have a chilling effect on human rights defenders operating in the country, owing to his high profile at the national and international levels.”

The Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Maina Kiai, called on the Government of Lao PDR “to fully cooperate with the Human Rights Council and its Special Procedures, particularly as it seeks election to the Human Rights Council for 2016.”

Mr. Maina Kiai expressed deep regret over the lack of response of the Lao PDR to his letters dated 12 December 2011 and 30 October 2013 requesting an invitation to visit the country.

The United Nations Special Rapporteurs are part of what it is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the United Nations Human Rights, is the general name of the independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms of the Human Rights Council that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. They are charged by the Human Rights Council to monitor, report and advise on human rights issues. Currently, there are 37 thematic mandates and 14 mandates related to countries and territories, with 72 mandate holders. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity. Learn more: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/SP/Pages/Welcomepage.aspx

For more information log on to:
Enforced disappearances: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Disappearances/Pages/DisappearancesIndex.aspx
Freedom of peaceful assembly and of association: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/AssemblyAssociation/Pages/SRFreedomAssemblyAssociationIndex.aspx
Human rights defenders: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/SRHRDefenders/Pages/SRHRDefendersIndex.aspx
Freedom of opinion and expression: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/FreedomOpinion/Pages/OpinionIndex.aspx

UN Human Rights, Country Page – Lao PDR: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/AsiaRegion/Pages/LAIndex.aspx

For more information and media requests, please contact Karen Blanc (+41 22 917 9400 / kblanc@ohchr.org).

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)

UN Human Rights, follow us on social media:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/unitednationshumanrights
Twitter: http://twitter.com/UNrightswire
Google+ gplus.to/unitednationshumanrights
YouTube:
http://www.youtube.com/UNOHCHR
Storify: http://storify.com/UNrightswire

Watch Navi Pillay’s Human Rights Day message: http://youtu.be/dhX-KbVbEQ0

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