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Where is Sombath Somphone?

Stopped by Police. Taken away in a Truck. Missing since 15 December 2012.

It's now more than three and a half years since Sombath Somphone, a civil society leader in Laos disappeared.

It was early evening on 15th December 2012 when Sombath was stopped by police in the Lao capital, Vientiane, before being taken away in a truck. CCTV footage from a traffic camera documented the full, shocking incident.

He has not been heard from since.

Taken on a busy city street 

On the evening of his disappearance, Sombath left his office, driving behind his wife, Shui-Meng Ng, who was in a separate car ahead of him. That was the last she saw of him.

Police stopped Sombath at around 6pm at a checkpoint on Thadeua Road, in Sisattanak district. He appears to get out of his car to speak to police before a motorcyclist arrives and then drives off with Sombath’s car. Shortly after, Sombath is taken put in a truck and driven away.

Authorities refuse responsibility

Despite having been stopped by police and then taken without police resisting his capture, the Lao authorities have denied arresting Sombath Somphone and deny any responsibility for his disappearance .

The Laos authorities hide behind a statement that he may have been abducted as part of a private dispute after being stopped by police for a routine document check.

Despite persistent campaigning from Sombath’s family, police investigations have left much to be desired, giving very little information. The lack of urgency is clear. 

Amnesty International has repeatedly called for a new independent commission to undertake an impartial and thorough review of all the evidence, including the detailed CCTV footage of Sombath’s abduction.

Join us to demand an answer.


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Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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