Monthly Archives: September 2015

ICMP Welcomes “Important Opportunity” to Account for Missing Persons in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka

18 September 2015: ICMP Director-General Kathryne Bomberger has welcomed this week’s announcement by the Sri Lankan government that it will establish “independent, credible and empowered mechanisms for truth seeking, justice, reparations and guarantees of non-recurrence” in regard to war crimes, including enforced disappearances, perpetrated during the conflict that ended in 2009.

Among other things, the government proposes to establish a Commission for Truth, an Office on Missing Persons, and an Office for Reparations.

On Wednesday UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein called for “a hybrid special court, integrating international judges, prosecutors, lawyers and investigators” to examine crimes committed during the conflict in Sri Lanka.

“There is now an important opportunity for all stakeholders in Sri Lanka, together with constructive assistance from international partners, to address the issue of those who went  missing during the conflict,” Ms. Bomberger said. “The fact…

Contribution to Addressing the Migration Crisis

Migrants are seen in a boat during a rescue operation by Italian navy ship San Marco off the coast to the south of the Italian island of Sicily

17 September 2015: The International Organization for Migration (IOM) reported on 11 September that more than 430,000 migrants have crossed the Mediterranean in 2015. The number will rise to half a million within weeks if the trend continues – and it shows every sign of continuing.  The number for 2015 is already more than double the figure for the whole of 2014.

Of the 432,761 people recorded by IOM crossing the Mediterranean, at least 2,748 have drowned. And these numbers do not tell the whole story. There are credible reports of large numbers of African migrants dying in the Sahara before they even reach the Mediterranean coast.

The picture of three-year old Alan Kurdi from…

Daily World News Digest, 17 September 2015

UN urges creation of special court in Sri Lanka after new report confirms ”horrific” abuses

The UN News Center carried a story on 16 September saying that a report released on Wednesday by the UN Human Rights Office has identified patterns of grave violations in Sri Lanka between 2002 and 2011, and recommends the establishment of a hybrid special court to ensure that justice is served. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said that the investigation has laid bare the horrific level of violations and abuses that occurred in Sri Lanka, including indiscriminate shelling, extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, harrowing accounts of torture and sexual violence, recruitment of children and other grave crimes. He continued saying that this report is being presented in a new political context in Sri Lanka, which offers grounds for hope.  The Commissioner said that levels of mistrust in State authorities and institutions…

Daily World News Digest, 16 September 2015

Sri Lanka war crimes judicial process must be under UN

The Asian Tribune reported today that two councilors from northern Sri Lanka have presented a memorandum to the UN Office in Jaffna, the Consul General of India and the Chief Minister of the Northern Provincial Council calling on the UN Human Rights Council to ensure that that judicial investigation into war crimes in Sri Lanka is international and under UN control, and they said that Tamils in Sri Lanka want the UN to recommend referral of cases to the International Criminal Court or to an international special criminal tribunal for Sri Lanka. The councilors are demanding an international probe into atrocities committed by government troops in the final days of the conflict in May 2009. They called on the UN to require Sri Lanka to provide data on at least 12,000 missing persons, including at least 6,000 Tamil Tiger members…

Daily World News Digest, 15 September 2015

Migrant crisis: Tough Hungarian laws take effect

The BBC reported today that Hungary has brought in tough new migrant laws which it says will “start a new era” in preventing the inflow of illegal immigrants. Police can now detain anyone who tries to breach a razor-wire fence on the border with Serbia. On Monday, EU ministers failed to agree unanimously on mandatory quotas to relocate 120,000 asylum seekers. Instead, at the meeting in Brussels, a majority agreed “in principle” and negotiations will now take place ahead of another meeting in October.

UN rights chief urges ”effective and principled migration governance“

The Jurist carried a story on 14 September on UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein’s opening statement on Monday at the 30th session of the UN Human Rights Council, in which he addressed, among other pressing human rights issues, the migrant crisis. In his statement, he…

Daily World News Digest, 14 September 2015

Boat capsizes off Greek island, 28 refugees drown

Al Jazeera reported on 13 September that at least 28 refugees, half of them children, have drowned after a wooden fishing boat sank off the Greek Island of Farmakonisi. Four babies and 10 young children, five boys and five girls, were among 112 people on the stricken boat when it sank off the southern Aegean island early on Sunday. The toll is thought to be the largest recorded from any single accident in Greek waters since the refugee crisis began. The coast guard rescued another 68 refugees from the sea and another 30 made their way to the island by themselves. Divers have recovered a number of victims still trapped in the vessel. Also on Sunday, a rubber dinghy deflated about 100m off Lesbos, forcing the occupants to swim for their lives. Sunday’s tragedy came just a day after two other boats…

Daily World News Digest, 11 September 2015

Srebrenica: Eight charged in Serbia’s first court ruling 

The BBC reported on 10 September that war crimes prosecutors in Serbia have charged eight people over the 1995 Srebrenica massacre. They are accused of killing hundreds of Bosnian men and boys in a single day at a warehouse near Srebrenica. It is the first time a Serbian court has charged anyone over the massacre of 8,000 people by Bosnian Serb forces. The men charged belonged to a special Bosnian Serb police unit that was operating in the eastern village of Kravica when the killings took place. Those charged included the unit’s commander, Nedeljko Milidragovic, also known as Nedjo the Butcher, who was accused of giving the order for the killings and saying that “nobody should get out alive”. Mr Milidragovic is already facing genocide charges in Bosnia but has been able to live freely in Serbia because of the lack of…

Daily World News Digest, 10 September 2015

Call for UN investigation in Jammu and Kashmir 

The Hindu, daily from India, reported on 10 September that rights groups on 9 September asked the UN to appoint a Special Rapporteur to investigate crimes allegedly committed by security forces in Jammu and Kashmir. Releasing a report on human rights abuses in Jammu and Kashmir, International Peoples’ Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice in Kashmir (IPTK) convener Gautam Navlakha said the group is asking the UN Security Council to refer the situation in Jammu and Kashmir to the Prosecutor of International Criminal Court. He said that a copy of the report will be sent to the Security Council and the UN Human Rights Council. According to the report, there were 972 perpetrators among which are officials, law enforcement and army who participated in extra-judicial killings, enforced disappearances, torture and other crimes in Jammu and Kashmir. Among others, the report documents 1,080…

ICMP Director Wins Prestigious International Science Award

10 September 2015: The Director of ICMP’s Forensic Science Department, Dr Thomas Parsons, has been awarded the 2015 Scientific Prize by the International Society for Forensic Genetics (ISFG). Dr Parsons is only the tenth person since 1987 to receive the award for outstanding scientific work in the field of forensic genetics, which is presented at two-year intervals but only when it is deemed that there is a recipient who merits the accolade.

Dr Parsons was honored for his signal contribution to genetic science, including his formulation of “the most efficient protocols and interpretation guidelines” for analyzing mitochondrial DNA and maximizing yields when extracting DNA from old and/or degraded bone samples – two of the key elements in human remains identification. The Prize cites Dr. Parsons’ “work in human mitochondrial DNA analysis and the identification of victims of war and disaster.”

Presenting the award at the ISFG’s biennial Congress in Krakow, Poland,…

Daily World News Digest, 9 September 2015

IOM monitors migrant arrivals, deaths in Italy, Greece and Spain 

IOM issued a statement today saying that its Missing Migrants Project had recorded 58 new fatalities at sea since noon Friday, 4 September. One was of an infant in Greek waters; two more deaths were reported in the Western Mediterranean near the Straits of Gibraltar, and the remainder between North Africa and Sicily, off the coast of Libya. IOM pegs total deaths of migrants bound for Europe by sea today at 2,760, or over 500 more than were recorded on those same routes at this time in 2014.

Jammu and Kashmir report cites torture, extra-judicial killings and enforced disappearances 

The Hindu, a daily from India, reported today that a new report on “institutionalized impunity and violence” in Jammu and Kashmir has named 972 alleged perpetrators of violence during counter-insurgency operations over the past 25 years. The report, “Structures of Violence:…