Monthly Archives: September 2015

Daily World News Digest, 30 September 2015

Mass graves found across Iraq

The Daily Mail reported today on a mass grave outside Baghdad which may contain the remains of up to 15,000 bodies. Saddam Hussein’s former head of protocol, Haitham Rashid Wihaib, described the events surrounding the mass grave discovered at al-Mahawil, where so far more than 3,000 human remains have been uncovered, as a “crime against humanity”. The site, near the city of Hilla about 56 miles south of Baghdad, appeared to be among the largest found in Iraq since Saddam’s government was toppled by the US-led invasion. Relatives of those who have been missing since the suppression of a Shiite uprising in 1991 have been desperately searching for the remains of their loved ones, using tractors and their own hands to dig in the soil. Thousands of people were killed during the murderous regime. In Baghdad alone, 60,000 disappeared. It is not yet known how…

Daily World News Digest, 29 September 2015

Sri Lanka’s Premier describes domestic mechanism for human rights abuses

The Lankaweb news portal reported on 28 September that Sri Lanka Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has described the key features of the domestic mechanism to be implemented following the UNHRC resolution about Sri Lanka on 30 September. Three main offices will be set up; the Missing Persons Office, the Special Counsel’s Office and the Truth Commission. The Missing Persons Office will be a permanent institution dealing with relevant complaints. The Special Counsel’s office will decide on the investigations and the cases that should go directly to the judiciary or to the Truth Commission. Foreign prosecutors may join according to the situation that would arise from time to time.

Human Rights Watch warns about flaws in the Colombian peace agreement

Human Rights Watch issued a statement on 28 September saying that the agreement between the Colombian government and Revolutionary Armed Forces…

Daily World News Digest, 28 September 2015

Migrant crisis: 17 people drown after boat sinks off Turkish coast

The BBC reported on 27 September that 17 migrants attempting to reach Greece by boat from Turkey drowned after their boat sank off the Turkish coast. The victims, all thought to be Syrians, included five women and five children, local media said. Another 20 people on deck, who were wearing life jackets, survived. Some 300,000 migrants and refugees have arrived in Greece so far this year, most of them moving on to try to reach other EU countries. Separately, at least 500 migrants were rescued from the Mediterranean over weekend in at least seven operations involving the Italian coastguard and navy and a ship belonging to the charity Medecins Sans Frontieres. The rescued migrants are thought to be largely from Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal and Sierra Leone and left Libya three days earlier.

Working meeting on enforced disappearances in…

Daily World News Digest, 25 September 2015

Pena Nieto promises new prosecutor for missing persons investigations

Deutsche Welle reported today that Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto has said he will create a new prosecutor’s office to look into the thousands of missing citizens. His announcement came after a meeting with the families of 43 students who went missing last year. “The case is not closed,” President Pena Nieto told families gathered for a meeting with him on Thursday as he announced the creation of a new prosecutor’s office especially for Mexico’s missing persons. The country’s chief prosecutor would also create a team of forensic experts to re-examine evidence and crime scenes. “We are on the same side,” the president said. “You and I are looking for the same thing.” However, he stopped short of announcing a new probe into the existing investigation of the 43 students who went missing last year.

Pakistan Missing Persons Commission seeks…

Minister Reaffirms Commitment to Accounting for the Missing


BiH Minister for Human Rights and Refugees Semiha Borovac visited ICMP’s offices in Sarajevo and Tuzla on 23 September, including the Identification and Coordination Division (ICD) as well as the facilities of the Podrinje Identification Project (PIP). Minister Borovac was the first BiH Minister for Refugees to visit these facilities, dedicated to identification of missing persons in BiH and crucial to the process of addressing the issue of missing persons from the conflicts of the 199Os.

ICMP has worked closely with the authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina to account for the over 30,000 people who were reported missing at the end of the war. Until now around 23,000 individuals – more than 70 percent of the total – have been identified. Almost 15,000 have been identified using DNA.

Minister Borovac said she wanted to see the ICD and PIP at first hand because…

Daily World News Digest, 24 September 2015

Bangladesh: Continued Enforced Disappearances

The Scoop news portal from New Zealand reported on 23 September that the Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC), the International Federation for Human Rights FIDH, and the Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD) gave a joint statement on Tuesday to the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances at the 30th session of the UN Human Rights Council, noting that between January 2009 and August 2015, human rights groups have documented at least 212 people forcibly disappeared in Bangladesh. “Many witnesses have testified to law enforcement agents’ involvement in these cases, and the pattern of abductions and the profiles of victims suggest that disappearances are used by the government to silence political opponents,” the statement said.

Awaiting “courage and leadership” from Sri Lanka

Human Rights Watch carried a commentary piece on 23 September on the release of the report by the UN High Commissioner for Human…

Daily World News Digest, 23 September 2015

Mexico: Reckless investigation into Ayotzinapa disappearances exposes government cover-up

Amnesty International carried a story today saying that the Mexican authorities’ reckless handling of the investigation into the enforced disappearance of 43 students from the Ayotzinapa teaching school in Iguala, Guerrero a year ago, exposes a scandalous cover-up orchestrated by the highest levels of government. It has exposed how anyone can be forcibly disappeared into thin air in the country with those in power focused on covering up the traces. Unless President Peña Nieto takes real action now he will continue to be seen around the world as an enabler of horrors,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International. She continued saying that the Mexican government’s unshakable determination to convince the world that the students were killed by a drug gang and their remains burned in a dumpster is distracting from any other valuable lines of investigation. In particular, they…

Daily World News Digest, 22 September 2015

Chile earthquake left 9,000 homeless and four missing

Firstpost, Indian news organization, reported on 21 September that more than 9,000 people were left homeless after a powerful earthquake hit northern and central Chile last week, according to officials who dramatically increased previous estimates. The death toll from the 8.3 magnitude quake that struck on 16 September remained at 13, with four still missing, said Deputy Interior Minister Mahmud Aleuy. The number of people left homeless however jumped drastically from 3,500, as officials scour remote towns in the Coquimbo region, more than 260 kilometers north of Santiago, where the quake epicenter was located. The offshore earthquake was the sixth strongest in the history of geologically volatile Chile and the most powerful anywhere in the world this year, officials say. Emergency personnel backed by soldiers were still busy cleaning up the coastal city of Coquimbo, washed up by the tsunami waves that…

Daily World News Digest, 21 September 2015

Sri Lankan President asked to table all the reports on last phase of war immediately at UNHRC

ColomboPage, a news portal from Sri Lanka, reported on 21 September that a group of prominent foreign policy observers have asked Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena to immediately table all the reports on the final phase of the conflict at the ongoing UN Human Rights Council session in Geneva. A petition signed by the group has been handed over to the President requesting him to table the Report on the second Mandate of the Presidential Commission on Missing Persons and also the Udalagama Report immediately at the UNHRC. The group says they are very concerned about the mechanisms proposed in the Report of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) Investigation on Sri Lanka, which was presented to the in Geneva by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein…

Daily World News Digest, 18 September 2015

Sri Lanka vows to punish war criminals but resists international investigation

The Gulf Times, a daily from Qatar, reported on 17 September that Sri Lanka has promised to punish those found guilty of war crimes but has stopped short of supporting an internationally backed probe, a day after a damning UN report on abuses committed during the island’s conflict. Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera said the government would work with the international community to ensure accountability and reconciliation following the island’s separatist war, which ended in 2009. But Samaraweera did not commit to the UN’s key recommendation to allow international experts to assist its domestic investigation, saying more discussions were needed with stakeholders. He said the government would establish its own “credible, domestic mechanism” within 18 months to probe allegations in the UN report. He said whoever is responsible, if proved, will be punished without considering their rank or position.