Sombath Sompone is a founder of non-governmental organisations in the field of education and rural development and an active human rights defender in the Laotian civil society.
It is one of the best-known defenders of social rights in Laos. For all his works and his actions he has received numerous international awards including the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership. The award was presented to reward his efforts to promote sustainable development in Laos by training and motivating young audiences.
Since 15 December 2012, Sombat Sombone is missing. A CCTV footage shows his last moments before his disappearance. According to these images, a motorcycle policeman asks him to get off his vehicle before two men in a vehicle took him.
Various international actors, including delegations from the European Parliament and members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, went on-site during official visits and used these occasions to question authorities about the situation of Sombath Sompone. According to the feedbacks of these visits, no progress has been made in the investigation into his disappearance and no concrete answer was given to their questions.
Thus, many calls were made both by civil society organisations and international institutions in order to have answers on the disappearance of Sombath Sompone and the ones of many others political opponents and other disappeared persons.
A year after the disappearance of Sombath Sompone, several Special Rapporteurs, including the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, issued a statement encouraging the Laotian authorities to intensify their efforts in the investigation process into his disappearance (only available in English).