March 24, 2013
US Calls on Laos to Find Missing Activist
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has called on the government of Laos to do everything in its power to find a missing civil activist who disappeared more than three months ago.
Sombath Somphone is widely thought to have been detained by authorities, after security camera footage showed him being taken away from a police post in the city of Vientiane in December
Kerry released a press statement Sunday saying the United States shares the international community's serious concerns about Sombath's safety and well-being. Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton made a similar request in January.
Kerry's went on to say that the disappearance raises questions about the Lao government's commitment to the rule of law and to engage responsibly with the world.
The government has promised an investigation, but has so far said nothing about Sombath's whereabouts or condition. It has suggested he was kidnapped for personal reasons, or because of a business dispute.
Human Rights Watch wants the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and its human rights commission to intervene, saying the case is a "major test" for the regional body.