February 13, 2013

Minister of The Prime Minister’s Office
President of The National Assembly
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Minister of Public Security
Vientiane, Lao Peoples’ Democratic Republic
CC: ASEAN Secretary General
ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights
EU Subcommittee on Human Rights
Re: Status of investigation into the disappearance of Mr. Sombath Somphone
Dear Madams and Sirs:
We write to you once again with deepening urgency. It has now been almost two months since Mr. Sombath Somphone, founder and former Director of PADETC, was abducted from in front of a police post in Vientiane.  Since that time, the Lao Government has claimed that authorities are seriously investigating the matter to arrive at the truth.
We note with great regret that to date, the Lao Government has provided virtually no meaningful updates about the investigation. On the contrary, reports from Vientiane indicate that false and slanderous rumours are being spread about why Mr. Sombath may have disappeared. Sombath Somphone is deeply respected both nationally and internationally for his integrity, honesty and service to his country. Suggestions of personal or business conflicts should be substantiated with credible evidence, or retracted and rejected. Such minimal standards of legal process are surely Mr Sombath’s due as a Lao citizen.
Mr. Sombath’s abduction and the lack of progress of the official investigation has received tremendous international attention and is tarnishing the reputation of the Lao PDR, placing the country’s international profile in serious jeopardy.  As noted by the Lao Ambassador in Geneva, the Lao PDR is State party to seven core UN Human Rights Conventions and two Optional Protocols, and signatory to the Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance. A résolution adopted by the European Parliament on February 7 calls on Lao Authorities to “undertake prompt, transparent and thorough investigations, in accordance with their obligations under international human rights law, and to ensure the immediate and safe return of Sombath Somphone to his family;”
We once again urge the Lao Government to act in good faith, expedite its investigation into Mr. Sombath’s abduction, and provide his family with meaningful updates on the progress of the investigation.
Swift actions by the Lao Government on this matter and the safe return of Mr. Sombath will surely bring credit to the country.
Alec Bamford, Thailand
All India Forum of Forest Movements, India
AKSI, Indonesia
Andrew Bartlett, United Kingdom
Andrew Nette, Australia
Angela Savage, Australia
Anne-Sophie Gindroz, Indonesia
Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA), Thailand
Bank Information Centre, USA
Bert Cacayan, Terres des homes Germany, Philippines
Brett M. Ballard, USA
Brian Angelo Lim, Singapore
Bruce Shoemaker, USA
Dr. Carl Middleton, Faculty of Political Science, Chulalongkorn University, Thailand
Centre for Civil Society, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Centre for Environmental Justice/Friends of the Earth, Sri Lanka
Centre for Human Rights and Development, Mongolia 
Centre for Sustainable Development (CENESTA), Iran
Chanida Bamford, Thailand
Chris Greacen, USA
Chris Lang, Indonesia
Cheng Shuling, China
Dani Setiawan, Anti Debt Coalition (KAU), Indonesia
Don Macleod, United Kingdom
Ellen Agger, Canada
Emma Glesen, New Zealand
Femy Pinto, Philippines
FIAN International, Germany
Finnish NGO Platform KEPA, Finland
Focus on the Global South, Thailand, India and Philippines
Forest Peoples Programme, United Kingdom 
Fresh Eyes–People to People Travel, United Kingdom
Gary Lee, Australia
Global Witness, United Kingdom
Grainne Ryder, Canada
Herman Kumara Wijethunge, National Fisheries Solidarity Movement (NAFSO) Sri Lanka
Hozue Hatae, Friends of the Earth Japan, Japan
International Accountability Project, USA
International Rivers, USA
Jacquelyn Chagnon, USA
Jenina Joy Chavez, Philippines
Jeremy Ironside, New Zealand
Jim Enright, Mangrove Action Project, Asia Regional Office, Thailand
Joan Carling, Secretary General, Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact, Thailand
Jon Ungphakorn, Thailand
Jubilee South-Asia/Pacific Movement on Debt & Development, Philippines
Karen Janigan, Canada
Karin Downs, Mass. Dept. of Public Health, USA
Dr. Keith Barney, Australian National University, Australia
Dr. Ken Kampe, USA
Kevin Kamp, USA
Kenji Fukuda, Representative Director, Mekong Watch, Japan
La Via Campesina, South Asia, India
Lam Thi Thu Suu, Vietnam Rivers Network (VRN), Vietnam
Laofang Bundidterdsakul, Lawyer, Thailand
Lisa ter Woort, Canada
Margie Law, Mekong Monitor, Australia
Martin Lemenager, France
Migrant Forum in Asia, Philippines
Mueda Nawanat, Thailand
Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum, Pakistan
Peta Colebatch, Australia
Peter Swift, USA
Dr. Philip Hirsch, University of Sydney, Australia
Pierre-Marc Blanchet, France
Pieter Jansen, Both ENDS, Netherlands
Randall Arnst, USA
Randall Ireson, USA
Rebeca Leonard, United Kingdom
Re:Common, Italy
Roger Henke, Netherlands
Roger Rumpf, USA
Rural Poor Institute for Land & Human Rights Services (RIGHTS), Inc., Philippines
Sabrina Kathleen, USA
Samuel Martin, France
Theresa Wong, Singapore
Tipakson Manpati, Thailand
The Cornerhouse, United Kingdom
The Peoples’ Coalition for Fisheries Justice (KIARA), Indonesia
Towards Ecological Recovery & Regional Alliance (TERRA), Thailand
Transnational Institute, Netherlands
Dr. Walden Bello, Philippines
Water Initiatives Odisha, India
World Rainforest Movement, Uruguay