Press Conference

Organised by: The Sombath Initiative

11am, Wednesday 31 August, 2016, Bangkok


At a time when ASEAN is witnessing an alarming increase in human rights abuses, restrictions on civil liberties, and a shrinking of democratic space in a number of its member states, what kind of example does this year’s ASEAN Chair, Laos, set for the regional bloc?

The enforced disappearance of prominent civil society leader Sombath Somphone in December 2012, ongoing arbitrary detentions, and extremely tight controls on the media and civil society have instilled an environment of fear, silence, and repression in Laos. Yet very little news about the serious human rights abuses occurring in the country ever comes out in the international and regional media, making it easier for the Lao government to continue hiding these violations of basic liberties.

Despite this repressive environment, significant amounts foreign aid and investment continue to flow into Laos, without taking heed of the rights and democracy deficit in the country.

In the week before the ASEAN Summit, scheduled for 6-8 September in Vientiane, and US President Barack Obama’s visit to Laos – the first-ever to be made by a sitting US President – for the East Asia Summit, it is important to shine a spotlight on Laos and the disturbing repression that pervades the country.


Speakers will include:

Shui Meng Ng, Wife of Sombath Somphone

Walden Bello, ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights 

Laurent Meillan, Acting Regional Representative of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights 

The moderator will be Phil Robertson, Deputy Director of the Asia Division of Human Rights Watch.

A press kit will also be made available, which will include a number of briefing papers about Laos.   

The press conference will be held at:

Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand

Penthouse, Maneeya Center Building

518/5 Ploenchit Road (connected to the BTS Skytrain Chitlom station)

Patumwan, Bangkok 10330

Tel.: 02-652-0580

E-mail:  [email protected]

Web Site:


For more information, please contact:

Yasmin Ahammad at [email protected] / +66(0)873242784 

Arnaud Dubus at [email protected] / +66 (0)818145116