Case study

Human rights defender Sombath Somphone in Laos

A case study on human rights defender Sombath Somphone from the 2013 Human Rights and Democracy Report.


On 15 December 2012, community development worker and prominent civil society activist Sombath Somphone disappeared in Vientiane in Laos. Police CCTV footage showed Sombath being taken away by unknown individuals after being stopped by uniformed traffic police at a police post. There is still no information on his whereabouts. In the year since his disappearance, FCO ministers and officials have raised his case with the Lao authorities on many occasions, and have offered technical assistance in interpreting the CCTV footage. Most recently, Minister for South East Asia, Hugo Swire, released a statement to mark the one-year anniversary of Sombath’s disappearance. The UK, along with other international partners, will continue to raise Sombath’s case whenever possible, and to call for a thorough, transparent and impartial investigation into his disappearance in order to make his fate and whereabouts known, and to bring those responsible to justice.

This case study is part of the 2013 Human Rights and Democracy Report.

Published 10 April 2014