We are members of a delegation of ASEAN parliamentarians that visited the Lao Peoples’ Democratic Republic to investigate the disappearance of Sombath Somphone, the prominent Lao leader of civil society from January 13 to 15. We went at the request of the Asia-Europe People’s Forum (AEPF)

The delegation was assembled in 10 days’ time owing to the urgency of the matter. Despite the short notice, high officials of the Lao PDR met with us, and we are very grateful for this. We had a very frank exchange of views in a cordial atmosphere.

We told the officials we met with that the disappearance of Sombath is an ASEAN concern because Sombath is an ASEAN figure whose work has touched the lives of many people in Laos and other countries in ASEAN. His work on rural development is a model emulated throughout the region. Moreover, at a time when ASEAN is coming together as a real community in the eyes of the world, his disappearance reflects badly not only on Laos but on the whole ASEAN community.

The officials we met acknowledged that the disappearance of Sombath is a blow to the reputation of the Lao PDR and that it could not have come at a worse time, coming on the heels of the country’s joining the World Trade Organization and hosting the Asia-Europe Leaders Meeting (ASEM). They also all acknowledged that Sombath is an important civil society leader who has contributed much to Laos’ development working alongside government, with many of them saying they knew him personally. They also noted the special responsibility of the government to solve Mr. Sombath’s disappearance since the Lao PDR has just signed the Convention on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, being the fourth country in Asia to do so.

One of the Lao leaders we met, Mr. Phoungsavath Boupha, President of the National Committee for Human Rights in the Office of the President, acknowledged that Sombath’s disappearance is not the first case of disappearance in Laos. He cited the case of the sister of the wife of the former ambassador of the Lao PDR to Indonesia who vanished five years ago and has not yet been found. We stressed to the officials we met that this case shows the importance of acting swiftly to find the disappeared, for the longer he or she is not located, the greater the chances that he will no longer surface.

We are very grateful for the meetings and the frank exchange of views, but we are from satisfied with the answers we got, and we told this to our hosts.

We were told that after a month of investigation, the only thing that has been established is that the police had nothing to do with the disappearance. We told them that this was not credible and that if we accepted this as fact as to the progress of the case, we would ourselves lose credibility.

We were told that Sombath was kidnapped, but we said if this was done by criminal elements, the family would by now have received a demand for ransom. No such note specifying an amount has been received. We received no satisfactory answer to this.

We noted discrepancies in our hosts’ accounts of the circumstances of the abduction. Most of the officials we met said that there was no evidence that Sombath got into the pickup truck that appeared in the CCTV footage after his jeep was stopped. Yet Mr. Sakayane Sisouvong, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said Sombath voluntarily boarded that vehicle.

Considering the experience of other countries in ASEAN where abductions have taken place, like the Philippines and Indonesia, we asked about the possibility that some section of the government or rogue elements in the government might have carried out an abduction that the rest of the government did not know about. This query did not elicit an answer from the officials we spoke to, except from Permanent Secretary Sisouvong, who said it was good suggestion. We expressed our hope to him that the authorities would indeed look into this angle.

We asked if Sombath’s disappearance might have something to do with the Asia Europe People’s Forum and the expulsion of Anne-Sophie Grindroz, the country director of the Swiss agency Helvetas. All we got in answer to this question was that Anne-Sophie was acting against Laos’ interests. There was a denial that Sombath’s disappearance was connected to her expulsion or the holding of the AEPF.

In short, our visit raised more questions than answers. It is indeed possible that the officials we met, high though they are in the government and National Assembly, do not know what happened to Sombath. Thus, it is all the more important that the highest state authorities direct the police, security, and intelligence agencies to focus their investigation on all possibilities, including the possibility that Mr. Sombath may have been abducted by elements, possibly rogue elements, within the government itself, a line of investigation that we strongly suggested and which was accepted as a good suggestion by the Permanent Secretary of Foreign Affairs.

In conclusion, we would like to thank the government and the National Assembly of the Lao PDR for meeting and having a frank exchange of views with us. We especially appreciate the fact that our visit was not taken as an intrusion into the sovereignty of the Lao PDR but as a legitimate expression of fraternal ASEAN concern, and that our suggestion that the objects of investigation include possible sections or rogue elements in the government was accepted as a viable course of action. Let me reiterate what both sides repeated throughout the talks: that the immediate surfacing of Mr. Sombath is in the interest of all parties, of Mr. Sombath and his family, of the Lao PDR, and of ASEAN.













online essay service review phobia essays for sale sociology essay writing services homework help stockholders equity statement comparison cheapest essay writing essays written by malcolm x chemistry assignment help online graduate admission essay help kindergarten essay writing service article i cant write my phd thesis do my economics homework for me professional resume writing service inland empire laser weight loss help with drivers ed homework custom written university papers an essay on criticism summary pope homework help victorian inventions what is an essay writer buy resume for writing much cover letter examples for medical records clerk essays written to promote the ratification of the constitution mba finance homework help the importance of being earnest essay help cv writing service us melbourne best buy resume application yahoo answers car hire business plan pdf buy time on an essay purchase dissertations from proquest write my thesis ireland essays on autism spectrum disorder professional cv writing services usa essays in search of april raintree apollo 13 essays custom paper bags cheap best professional resume writing services groupon need help with your homework write a essay for me free proposal and dissertation help between revolutionary war homework help order resume online 8 temporada engineering resume writing services resume and linkedin writing services english comp homework help paper writing services scams online essay editing services 20mg yagara india help with shakespeare essay can you buy a phd content writing services us cheap urispas no prescription achat wondersleep generique should i use a cv writing service essay help forum academic assignment writing jobs how to write a letter of intent to purchase a business order article review tutoring and homework help help writing a paper apa style dissertation help ireland northern vocabulary homework help cover letter for medical device assembler cover letter for medical research internship online essay services conversion disorder case studies louisiana purchase essay thesis doostang resume writing service reviews acquista lynoral pay website do homework for me religion homework help site research paper writing styles paying someone to write a paper for you federal job resume writing service assignments writing services resume examples for medical office receptionist write my essay wikipedia sample cover letter for mechanical draftsman the outsiders essay help borderline personality disorder case studies write papers cheap essay importance of reading Female Viagra patient assistance nootrop-piracetam 400 no prescription online homework helper games acheter female cialis suisse doctoral dissertation help thesis resume for medical technologist with no experience help me write my essay uk editing services for students hire someone to write best man speech cover letter for sales director write my personal statement masters papers for sale buy college assignments i need an essay written how much 500 mg capoten cheapest buying a term paper online literature review writing company do my german homework admission papers for sale vidyamandir online professional resume writing services groupon buy homework sims 4 trimecor mr from canada write my essay for me legit architecture thesis help purchase geodon online sample resumes for sales representative bupron sr discount pharmacy fellowship personal statement writing service cialis with no rx writing help for students homework help for art class homework help program viking homework help homework help brainly tamil essay books for sale thesis topics for medical technology students essay writing service no plagiarism free audio book on weight loss where to buy tadalis sx cheap no script handy homework helper book 272 can i trust canadian super tadarise online best resume writing services chicago professional cover letter for sales associate retail custom research paper help an essay help achat de arava au payroll homework help buy essays uk online mla essay writing service get essays written phd dissertation help number of words order custom paper size help with ict coursework common application essay help maximum words homework help algebra word problems ladders resume writing service essay editing service forum homework help louisiana help with dissertation writing services i cant do my english essay a better resume writing service reviews emergency term paper writers resume writing services hawaii mri in seizure disorder a pictorial essay purchase a dissertation books golden retriever pcci papers for sale ladybird homework helpers pack game help homework professional writing services canberra resume writing service education write my research paper for free psychology research paper on eating disorders college writing service movies best place to buy a essay homework help witches where can i buy research paper help with essay for scholarship how to address a cover letter to an unknown hiring manager where to buy term papers online cv writing services edinburgh i will pay someone to write my paper dissertation writing services usa legit sample resume for mechanical engineering term paper writer format anaerobic resynthesis of atp address cover letter to hiring manager 11 test papers online free do my essay best man speech writing services buy generic precose where can i buy essays online buy math homework cheap yasmin mail order without prescription essay writer typer buy ansaid online secure where to buy lamprene buying without a prescription 100mg viagra professional price metformin and clomid success stories genital herpes causative organism sample resume for medical assistant student san diego homework helpers sample resume for medical billing specialist get help writing a dissertation outline resume writing services winston salem nc get help homework online help with creative writing best cv writing services washington dc uk thesis help how to write my name in japanese characters write my assignment for me in it buy law essays online help writing essay online help writing college essay college research paper writer help with biology ib extended essay Levlen purchase online homework help in ridley school district royal dissertation writing service (uk) help me to write my essay essays on absurdism essay learning foreign language