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ວີດີໂອງານລໍາລຶກ ທ.ສົມບັດ ສົມພອນ ທີ່ສູນອົບຮົມ ຮ່ວມ ພັທນາ
Wife of Missing Lao Civil Society Leader Laments Lack of Progress in Case

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ງານລໍາລຶກ ທ.ສົມບັດ ສົມພອນ ທີ່ສູນອົບຮົມ ຮ່ວມ ພັທນາ
2015-01-29 ສູນ ອົບຮົມ ຮ່ວມ ພັທນາ ຈັດງານ ຄົບຮອບ 2 ປີ ທີ່ ທ່ານ ສົມບັດ ສົມພອນ ຖືກ ລັກພາຕົວ ໄປ ຈາກ ຄອບຄົວ ແລະ ການພັທນາ ແບບ ຍືນຍົງ ໃນ ສປປ ລາວ. ຄໍາໄຂຣະຫັດ

The Lao government’s response at a United Nations human rights review to concerns over its efforts to find a missing prominent civil society leader demonstrates the need for authorities to accept international assistance and establish an independent commission to investigate his case, his wife said Tuesday.

Ng Shui-Meng, the wife of Sombath Somphone, said a delegation from Laos offered no new information about her husband more than two years after his disappearance while speaking about his case during a Universal Periodic Review (UPR) at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHCR) in Geneva, Switzerland.

“[The Lao government] continues to state that the investigation is continuing, but it has been over two years and there has been no progress,” she told RFA’s Lao Service following the UPR, which involves a comprehensive review of the human rights record of all U.N. member countries every four years.

“I hope that the Lao government will now accept international assistance, and set up a new and independent commission to investigate the case and find Sombath.”

Laos has previously rejected any international assistance with the investigation into Sombath's disappearance, including a U.S. offer to provide technical help to enhance the quality of some blurry images of the surveillance video footage.

Earlier Tuesday, Lao chairman of the National Committee for Human Rights Phongsavath Boupha assured the UNHCR that authorities were “seriously conducting” the investigation into Sombath’s disappearance and was open to “suggestions from any interested parties” on how to proceed.

Phongsavath rejected accusations from rights groups that government-linked organizations or criminal elements may have abducted Sombath, who received the 2005 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership—Asia’s equivalent of the Nobel Prize—for his work in the fields of education and development.

Sombath went missing on Dec. 15, 2012, when police stopped him in his vehicle at a checkpoint in the capital Vientiane. He was then transferred to another vehicle, according to police surveillance video, and has not been heard from since.

“These accusations can be refuted while referring to the mere fact that the incident happened in front of a police CCTV camera and the police authorities … cooperated sincerely with his wife and relatives, allowing them to view and record the CCTV footage,” Phongsavath said.

He said the investigation commission had been working under the “close supervision” of the Ministry of Public Security, adding that the attention paid by the country’s leadership was “indicative of the sincerity and seriousness of the Lao government in solving this case.”
 : Ng Shui-Meng, wife of Sombath Somphone, talks about her husband's disappearance at a press conference in Bangkok, Dec. 11, 2014.
Ng Shui-Meng, wife of Sombath Somphone, talks about her husband's disappearance at a press conference in Bangkok, Dec. 11, 2014.
  Calls from civil society

Phongsavath comments on Sombath’s investigation followed a call from 145 civil society organizations for the Lao government to address his disappearance at the UPR session.

“While there has been no indication of any official investigation for over 18 months, numerous independent assessments, including a recent report by the International Commission of Jurists, conclude that the case remains ‘eminently solvable,’” the organizations said in an open letter published Tuesday.

“Further, UN experts have again made clear it is the Lao government’s responsibility under international law to carry out ‘an independent, thorough, credible and effective investigation,’” the letter said.

“It is simply unacceptable that a nation so seeking of and dependent on international aid has summarily refused any assistance for just such an investigation.”

The letter questioned what resolve the government has to address other rights issues in the country while it "ignores" Sombath’s case.

It called for the government to give his disappearance its “rightful place among the most central issues” at the UPR session.

On Monday, Paris-based International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) called for Laos to ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (ICPPED), which it had signed six years ago, adding that the government had failed to adequately investigate most cases of enforced disappearances, including Sombath’s.

And Phillippe Dam, acting Geneva advocacy director for New York-based Human Rights Watch, in a statement Monday called the lack of progress in Sombath’s case “sadly emblematic of the Lao government’s failure to take action on a wide range of serious human rights problems.”

Ng on Tuesday welcomed the collective effort from civil society organizations and U.N. member countries on behalf of her husband.

“I am so pleased to hear so many … have urged the Lao government to take action to address the unresolved case of the disappearance of Sombath,” she said.

“I hope the message gets across loud and clear and something positive will happen soon.”

Reported by RFA’s Lao Service. Written in English by Joshua Lipes.

Laos: Rights groups urge ASEAN to break silence on enforced disappearance of Sombath Somphone
  15 December 2014
On the second anniversary of the enforced disappearance of prominent Lao civil society leader Sombath Somphone, we, the undersigned regional and international organizations, firmly condemn the Lao government’s ongoing refusal to provide any information regarding Sombath’s fate or whereabouts. The Lao government’s deliberate silence on Sombath is part of a strategy that aims at consigning to oblivion the heinous crime of enforced disappearance. Regrettably, all other ASEAN member states have remained conspicuously silent on the issue of Sombath’s disappearance. Our organizations believe that ASEAN member states, as well as the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR), must break the silence on this matter. Instead of invoking the principle of non-interference into one another’s internal affairs, ASEAN member states must act as responsible members of the international community and uphold the 10-nation bloc’s key tenets enshrined in the ASEAN Charter, which recognizes the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms among the bloc’s purposes and principles. As a result, we, the undersigned organizations, call on ASEAN member states to raise the issue of Sombath’s disappearance with the Lao government in all bilateral and multilateral fora. We also urge AICHR to exercise its power to “obtain information from ASEAN member states on the promotion and protection of human rights” in order to shed light on the disappearance of Sombath. Sombath was last seen on the evening of 15 December 2012 in Vientiane. Lao public surveillance CCTV footage revealed that police stopped Sombath’s car at a police post. Within minutes after being stopped, unknown individuals forced him into another vehicle and drove away. Analysis of the CCTV footage shows that Sombath was taken away in the presence of police officers who witnessed the abduction and failed to intervene - a fact that strongly suggests government complicity. Sombath’s enforced disappearance is not an isolated incident. To this day, the whereabouts of nine people arbitrarily detained by Lao security forces in November 2009 in various locations across the country remain unknown. The nine had planned peaceful demonstrations calling for democracy and respect of human rights. The whereabouts of Somphone Khantisouk are also unknown. Somphone, the owner of an ecotourism guesthouse, was an outspoken critic of Chinese-sponsored agricultural projects that were damaging the environment in the northern province of Luang Namtha. He disappeared after uniformed men abducted him in January 2007.
Our organizations urge ASEAN member states and the AICHR to call on the Lao government to immediately conduct competent, impartial, effective, and thorough investigations into all cases of enforced disappearances, hold the perpetrators accountable, and provide reparations to the victims and their families.
Signed by: 1. Adventist Development and Relief Agency Lao PDR
2. Ain O Salish Kendra
3. Alternative ASEAN Network on Burma (ALTSEAN-Burma)
4. Amnesty International
5. ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights
7. Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact
8. Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances
9. Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
10. Asia-Pacific Solidarity Coalition
11. Association of Human Rights Defenders and Promoters
12. Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM)
13. Boat People SOS
14. Burma Partnership
15. Cambodian Civil Society Working Group on ASEAN
16. Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC)
17. Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO)
18. Cambodian Volunteers for Society
19. Center for Human Rights and Development
20. China Labour Bulletin
21. Coalition to Abolish Modern-day Slavery in Asia
22. Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence (KontraS)
23. Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative
24. East Timor and Indonesia Action Network
25. Equality Myanmar
26. Equitable Cambodia
27. FIDH - International Federation for Human Rights
28. Finnish Asiatic Society
29. Focus on the Global South
30. Forum for Democracy in Burma
31. Fresh Eyes – People to People Travel
32. Gender and Development Initiative-Myanmar
33. Globe International
34. Hawaii Center for Human Rights Research & Action
35. Human Rights and Development Foundation
36. Human Rights Commission of Pakistan
37. Human Rights Watch
38. Indonesia Legal Aid Foundation
39. Indonesian Human Rights Monitor (IMPARSIAL)
40. INFORM Human Rights Documentation Centre
41. Initiatives for International Dialogue
42. Interfaith Youth Coalition on Aid in Myanmar
43. International Rivers
44. Judicial System Monitoring Programme
45. Justice and Peace Network of Myanmar
46. Justice for Peace Foundation
47. Justice for Women
48. Kachin Peace Network
49. Kachin Women Peace Network
50. Khmer Kampuchea Krom for Human Rights and Development Association
51. Korean House for International Solidarity
52. Lao Movement for Human Rights
53. Law and Society Trust
54. League for the Defence of Human Rights in Iran
55. LICADHO Canada
56. LILAK (Purple Action for Indigenous Women’s Rights)
57. Madaripur Legal Aid Association
59. National Commission for Justice and Peace
60. Network for Democracy and Development
61. Odhikar
62. Olive Branch Human Rights Initiative
63. People’s Empowerment Foundation
64. People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy
65. People’s Vigilance Committee on Human Rights
66. People’s Watch
67. Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates
68. Potahar Organization for Development Advocacy
69. RTCC Research and Translation Consultancy Cluster
70. Sehjira Foundation for Persons with Disabilities
72. Social Action for Change
73. STAR Kampuchea
74. Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM)
75. Taiwan Association for Human Rights
76. Task Force Detainees of the Philippines
77. Think Centre
78. Transnational Institute
79. United Sisterhood Alliance - Cambodia
80. Vietnam Committee on Human Rights
81. Women Peace Network Arakan
82. World Rainforest Movement 
 Europe solidaire sans frontières (ESSF), France

ລາວຖືກກົດດັນໃຫ້ສືບຫາ ທ.ສົມບັດ ສິດນີ

Foreign Donors Slam Laos Over Lack of Progress on Missing Civil Society Leader

ຟັງ ຫຼື ດາວໂຫລດເນື້ອເຣື້ອງ
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A 2005 photo of Sombath Somphone in the Philippines.
A 2005 photo of Sombath Somphone in the Philippines.
ທ່ານ Phil Robertson ຈາກອົງການ ສິ້ງຊອມ ການປະຕິບັດ ສິດທິມະນຸສ ໃນຂົງເຂດ ເອເຊັຽ-ປາຊິຝິກ ກ່າວໃນວັນ ຄົບຮອບ 2 ປິ ການຫາຍສາບສູນ ຂອງທ່ານສົມບັດ
ທ່ານ Phil Robertson ຈາກອົງການ ສິ້ງຊອມ ການປະຕິບັດ ສິດທິມະນຸສ ໃນຂົງເຂດ ເອເຊັຽ-ປາຊິຝິກ ກ່າວໃນວັນ ຄົບຮອບ 2 ປິ ການຫາຍສາບສູນ ຂອງທ່ານສົມບັດ
Donor countries to Laos have pressed the government of Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong on the whereabouts of the country’s most prominent civil society leader, who disappeared nearly two years ago. European and U.S. development partners mentioned the case of Sombath Somphone at a roundtable meeting with members of the Lao government last week in the capital Vientiane, during which they discussed the country’s progress and challenges in implementing various development goals. The civil society leader went missing on Dec. 15, 2012, when police stopped him in his vehicle at a checkpoint in the capital. He was then transferred to another vehicle, according to police surveillance video, and has not been heard from since. “Sombath’s case has been raised by several development partners such as the European Union … [and] the United States,” said a foreign representative at the meeting, speaking to RFA’s Lao Service on condition of anonymity. But a high-ranking official at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Laos said the government had not been complacent on the issue, and was putting efforts and resources into the investigation, the source said. The official also suggested that the development partners turn their attention to Laos’ “more pending and important issues” which were more pressing than the Sombath case. “The government of Laos hopes to have more information about the case soon that they will be able to share in the near future,” the source said.

ໃນ ມື້ວານ ນີ້ ປະຊາຄົມ ສາກົນ ແລະ ກຸ່ມ ປົກປ້ອງ ສິດທິ ມະນຸດ ໄດ້ກົດດັນ ໃຫ້ ຣັຖບານລາວ ໃຊ້ຄວາມ ພຍາຍາມ ເພີ້ມຕື່ມ ໃນການ ຊອກຫາ ທ່ານ ສົມບັດ ສົມພອນ ທີ່ ຫາຍສາບສູນ ໄປໄດ້ 2 ປີ ແລ້ວ.
ທ່ານ JOHN BAIRD ຣັຖມົນຕຣີ ກະຊວງ ຕ່າງ ປະເທດ ການາດາ ກ່າວວ່າ ປະເທດ ການາດາ ຍັງມີ ຄວາມເປັນຫ່ວງ ໃນການ ຫາຍ ສາບສູນ ຂອງ ທ່ານ ສົມບັດ ສົມພອນ ໃນຣະຍະ 2 ປີ ທີ່ຜ່ານມາ ຊື່ງ ຣັຖບານ ລາວ ຍັງບໍ່ ສາມາດ ໃຫ້ຂໍ້ມູນ ການ ຫາຍສາບສູນ ຂອງ ທ່ານໄດ້. ທາງການ ການາດາ ຂໍຮຽກຮ້ອງ ໃຫ້ ຣັຖບານ ລາວ ເຄົາຣົບ ນັບຖື ສົນທິ ສັນຍາ ກ່ຽວກັບ ສິດທິມະນຸດ ທີ່ ຕົນໄດ້ ລົງນາມ ຮ່ວມກັບ ນາໆຊາດ ແລະ ໃຫ້ຂໍ້ມູນ ຢ່າງ ແຈ່ມແຈ້ງ ກ່ຽວກັບ ການສືບສວນ ການ ຫາຍສາບສູນ ຂອງທ່ານ ສົມບັດ ສົມພອນ ຕໍ່ຊາວ ໂລກ.
ໃນຂນະ ດຽວກັນ ກຸ່ມ ຕົວແທນ ຈາກ 82 ອົງກອນ ດ້ານ ສິດທິມະນຸດ ກໍ່ໄດ້ຮ່ວມກັນ ອອກ ຖແລງການ ປະນາມ ຣັຖບານ ລາວ ປະຕິເສດ ທີ່ຈະໃຫ້ ຂໍ້ມູນກ່ຽວກັບ ການ ຫາຍສາບສູນ ຂອງ ທ່ານ ສົມບັດ ສົມພອນ. ອົງການ ດັ່ງກ່າວ ຍັງໄດ້ ຮຽກຮ້ອງ ສະມາຄົມ ອາຊຽນໃຫ້ ໃຊ້ ມາຕການ ທີ່ ສຳຄັນ ແລະ ຈຳເປັນ ໃນ ການກົດດັນ ຣັຖບານ ລາວ ໃນການສືບຫາ ທ່ານ ສົມບັດ ສົມພອນ.
ສຳລັບ ອົງການ ສີ້ງຊອມດ້ານ ສິດທິມະນຸດ ສາກົນ ກໍເວົ້າວ່າ ການສືບສວນ ຊອກຫາ ທ່ານ ສົມບັດ ສົມພອນ ຂອງ ທາງການ ລາວ ເປັນການ ອັບອາຍ ຂາຍຫນ້າ ຫລາຍກວ່າ ເພາະຂາດ ຂໍ້ມູນ ແລະ ຄວາມຈິງ ກໍຍັງມີ ການປີດບັງ ໄວ້ຢູ່.
ກຸ່ມ ດັ່ງກ່າວ ເວົ້າວ່າ ຕັ້ງແຕ່ ເລີ້ມຕົ້ນ ຊາວໂລກ ກໍ ຮູ້ແລ້ວວ່າ ເປັນການ ບີບບັງຄັບ ໃຫ້ ຫາຍສາບສູນ ເພາະ ສີ່ງທີ່ ເກີດຂຶ້ນ ນັ້ນ ແມ່ນຢູ່ ປ້ອມຍາມ ຂອງ ເຈົ້າຫນ້າທີ່ ຕຳຣວດ ແຕ່ ທາງການ ລາວ ກໍຍັງ ປະຕິເສດ ຕໍ່ຄວາມ ຮັບຜິດຊອບ ຂອງຕົນ ຢູ່.

 Lack of progress The EU development partners noted the Lao government’s lack of progress with the Sombath case, despite a reassurance at last year’s roundtable meeting that it was continuing the investigation and would bring the perpetrators to justice. “One year later (and almost two years after the disappearance occurred), we note with grave concern that no progress has been made, and Mr. Sombath has still not returned to his family,” said a statement issued by the European donor countries. They also said they had invited the United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances to become involved in the case. “Continued uncertainty around this case will not reflect well on the Lao PDR [People’s Democratic Republic] in the upcoming Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process,” the statement said, referring to a human rights review each U.N. member country undergoes every four years. Laos is scheduled to be reviewed in January. Some international rights groups and Sombath’s wife, Ng Shui Meng, suspect that government-linked organizations or criminal elements may have abducted the activist. They also accuse Laos of being reluctant to investigate his enforced disappearance, and say the case has created a fearful environment for other activists in the country. Sombath received the 2005 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership—Asia’s equivalent of the Nobel Prize—for his work in the fields of education and development. Laos previously rejected international assistance with the investigation into Sombath's disappearance, including a U.S. offer to provide technical help to enhance the quality of some blurry images of the surveillance video footage. Land grabs The donor countries also encouraged the government to ensure that the expropriation of land in Laos is restricted to use for public purposes only. Laos often comes under fire for land grabs in which the authorities evict people from their homes for development projects without paying them fair compensation. “In cases of expropriation for public purposes, affected parties should receive full, fair and prior compensation both in cases of individually and communally held land,” the statement said. Laotians are granted the right to occupy land through the state. Some of them can sell the right to use their land if their family has inhabited it for generations. However, citizens cannot officially own property, and the government reserves the right to reclaim land when it is deemed to be “in the public interest,” such as for national development projects. The donors urged the government to “define clear policies and laws to protect customary rights in order to secure the livelihoods especially of rural and vulnerable groups” when it comes to expropriating land. Reported by Ounkeo Souksavanh for RFA’s Lao Service. Translated by Ounkeo Souksavanh. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.