Thursday, January 17, 2013

Cambodian human rights group urges Laos to locate missing activist

The Cambodian Centre for Human Rights (CCHR) expressed its deep concern regarding the disappearance of prominent human rights defender Sombath Somphone in Laos, according to the CCHR President’s letter to Yaseng Lao, the Lao Ambassador to Cambodia.

The letter said Sambath Somphone, known for his work educating and training youths to promote sustainable development in Laos, has disappeared since December 15, 2012.

He was last seen by his wife, Ng Shui Meng, as they drove separately from his office at around 5pm on the evenining of December 15, 2012. Sombath Somphone did not return home as planned and so on the morning of December 16, Ng Shui Meng reported him missing to the authorities. 

“Closed-circuit camera footage obtained by his family in the days after his disappearance shows Sombath Somphone being stopped by traffic police on Thadeua Road in Vientiane just after 6pm. The camera footage appears to show Sombath Somphone leaving his car and being accompanied by the police to the police station before later being driven away in a large while vehicle,” Ou Virak, the CCHR president said in his letter, dated January 16, 2013.

Sombath Somphone has now been missing for one month and there is growing concern for his welfare. This concern is accompanied by a widely help belief that Sombath Somphone was targeted as a result of his community development work and that he is being made an example of by the Laotian authorities who are attempting to prevent the growth of civil society in the country, he added.

“CCHR therefore calls upon your Embassy, Ambassador, to do all in its power in order to urge the Laotian authorities to establish an immediate, thorough, impartial and credible investigation into the disappearance of Sombath Somphone and to ensure that justice is delivered to the human rights defender and his family,” said Ou Virak.-Asia News Network (January 17, 2013)

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