Today marks 1,000 days since prominent Lao civil society leader Sombath Somphone “disappeared” at a police checkpoint on a busy street in Vientiane. We, the undersigned organizations, reiterate our call for the Lao government to intensify its efforts to conduct a prompt, impartial, and effective investigation into Sombath’s apparent enforced disappearance, to determine his fate or whereabouts, and to take the necessary measures to bring those responsible to justice.
At the second Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Laos, held in Geneva on 20 January 2015, 10 states made recommendations to Laos to investigate Sombath’s disappearance. In addition, five states raised questions about the issue.
A Joint Statement by Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances, Asian Legal Resource Centre, The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders [a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT)]
1 September 2015 – On the occasion of the International Day of the Disappeared on August 30, families of victims of enforced disappearance, AFAD, ALRC, FIDH and Odhikar had jointly organised a commemorative event in Dhaka, Bangladesh to remember those who have been forcibly detained and whose fate and whereabouts remain unknown. However, less than 24 hours before the event was scheduled to take place, it was suddenly cancelled by the National Press Club where the event was slated to be held. In addition, families of the disappeared who were scheduled to speak during the event received threatening phone calls, and police were deployed to the National Press Club without an explanation. Our organisations have reason to believe that the Bangladesh government is behind this sudden cancellation of the event and the intimidation of victims' families, as part of a wider effort to silence any voices speaking out against Enforced Disappearances in Bangladesh and to maintain impunity for these crimes which many claim have been committed by State authorities.
Paris, 30 August 2015: ASEAN member states must accelerate the process of ratification of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (ICPPED), FIDH said today on the occasion of the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances.
“By becoming a state party to the ICPPED, states will have a legal obligation to investigate all cases of enforced disappearances and deliver justice to the victims and their families,” said FIDH President Karim Lahidji. “Governments will no longer be able to remain idle and rely on the belief that the passage of time will ultimately render cases of disappearances into obscurity.”
2015 International Day of the Disappeared
August 30, 2015 – Since the establishment of the Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD) in 1998, it has been commemorating the International Day of the Disappeared every 30th of each year. This was first commemorated by the Latin American Federation of Associations of Relatives of Disappeared-Detainees (FEDEFAM) for many years and adopted by similar formations in other parts of the world. As enforced disappearances reached global proportions, in 2011, the United Nations officially declared this day as the International Day of the Disappeared.
Today, AFAD pays tribute to the thousands of disappeared people in Asia and the world over, who, with their families and relatives, are AFAD’s reason for existence. As a form of tribute to the desaparecidos of the world, the International Day of the Disappeared commemoration, conducted in various forms by AFAD member-organizations, aims to raise the awareness on the phenomenon of enforced disappearance and to obtain concrete results of the struggle to attain the vision of a world without desaparecidos. On this occasion, the Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances reiterates its strong solidarity with the families of the disappeared in many different ways. In a special way, AFAD remembers all desaparecidos, some of whom are prominent names, such as those of Sombath Somphone of Laos; Jonas Burgos of the Philippines; Subarna Paudel of Nepal; Mushtaq Ahmad Khan of Jammu and Kashmir; Somchai Neelaphaijit of Thailand; Masood of Pakistan; Nurul Amin of Bangladesh; Wiji Thukul of Indonesia; Hwang Won of South Korea and Prageeth Eknaligoda of Sri Lanka. The names are many. The litany is long. Each disappeared person has a name, a life, a family.