The Lao government has made no progress accounting for civil society leader Sombath Somphone, who was forcibly disappeared on December 15, 2012. Four years after he was stopped at a police checkpoint in the capital, Vientiane, the government needs to provide information on his fate or whereabouts, Human Rights Watch said today:
A police closed-circuit television (CCTV) camera on the evening of his arrest shows police stopping Sombath’s jeep and leading him into the checkpoint. The footage shows unidentified individuals bringing Sombath out within minutes and putting him into another vehicle, which then drives away. Another individual later drives away in Sombath’s jeep. Last December, Sombath’s family released new CCTV footage (above) obtained from the same area as the police checkpoint that shows Sombath’s jeep being driven back to the center of Vientiane. At a minimum, this should have prompted a review of other CCTV cameras along the main route the car was taking back into the city.
“Since the start, the Lao government’s investigation of Sombath Somphone’s disappearance has been a pattern of delay, denial, and cover-up,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Four years on, Sombath’s family is no closer to learning the truth about his fate than they were in the weeks after he went missing.”