US challenges Laos over missing activist

AP News
Posted: Mar 25, 2013 12:37 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. is challenging Laos over the disappearance of a prominent social activist that has put a rare spotlight on an authoritarian nation's murky governance and human rights record.

In a statement, Secretary of State John Kerry said the unexplained disappearance of Sombath Somphone 100 days ago and Laos' failure to provide significant information about his case is raising questions about the government's commitment to the rule of law and engaging responsibly with the world.

Laos retains a one-party political system and is intolerant of dissent. Sombath's work in promoting social development was not overtly political.

The State Department says it's monitoring the case of former ethnic Hmong rebel leader Moua Toua Ther (MOO-ah TOO-ah ter), who reportedly is facing deportation from Thailand. Activists fear he'd face persecution in Laos.