Monthly Archives: October 2015

Daily World News Digest, 30 October 2015

Worsening weather brings more tragedy to eastern Aegean

UNHCR issued a news on 29 October saying that at least 15 people died, several of them children, and some 38 others are missing in five incidents involving smuggler boats carrying hundreds of refugees and migrants across a wind-whipped channel between Turkey and the Greek islands. In the most serious incident, a wooden boat that passengers said had been carrying at least 300 people sank in gale-force winds off the north coast of Lesvos Island Wednesday evening. 34 missing persons had been identified, in addition to four missing in other incidents Wednesday. The search for survivors of the shipwreck continued Thursday, but by midday there were no further reports of anyone being found. The sinking was one of five serious boat incidents on Wednesday and brought renewed pleas for help in the eastern Aegean. Alessandra Morelli, UNHCR’s Senior Operations Coordinator for Greece…

ICMP Hague Meeting: Enhances Global Missing Persons Strategy


29 October 2015: The first Conference of State Parties of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) was held today at the Foreign Ministry of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in The Hague. The meeting, was chaired by a representative of the United Kingdom.

The CSP brings together countries that have signed the Agreement on the Status and Functions of ICMP: the UK, the Netherlands, Sweden, Belgium and Luxembourg signed the agreement in December 2014 and other countries, including El Salvador, are expected to sign in the near future. Representatives of El Salvador, Germany, the US, Interpol and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) attended today’s Conference as observers.

The CSP discussed ICMP’s plan of work through 2018.  Among key activities for the period, ICMP will host the inaugural meeting in November of the Inter-Agency Standing Committee on Missing Persons, whose initial focus will…

Daily World News Digest, 29 October 2015

Giving names to the dead: The grim side of Italy’s migrant crisis

News 24, a news portal from South Africa, carried a story on 28 October about Prefect Vincenzo Piscitelli, man coordinating one of the grimmest jobs linked to Europe’s ongoing migration crisis. The official is overseeing efforts to pull out and identify hundreds of bodies caught up in 18 April shipwreck, considered the biggest Mediterranean migration accident to date. Piscitelli’s official job title is government special commissioner for missing persons. Talking about 18 April shipwreck, Piscitelli said recovery efforts had not stopped and had moved on to “phase two”, with a private contractor working on behalf of the navy to lift the entire vessel up to the surface. Once that happens, authorities expect to find 400 more bodies. The plan is to have them inspected one by one by a team of forensic pathologists led by Labanof, a University…

Daily World News Digest, 28 October 2015

Cyprus: Committee on Missing Persons seek support from Brussels

Famagusta Gazette, a daily from Cyprus, reported today that members of the Committee on Missing Persons (CMP) were in Brussels to seek further financial and political support for the exhumation program. A statement from UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus said that the Committee had meetings in Brussels with members of the European Parliament’s Budget and Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs committees as well as with senior European Commission officials. The aim of these meetings, “was to secure further financial and political support for the CMP’s exhumation, identification and return of remains project.’’ The EU is the biggest contributor to the CMP since its operations started in 2006. All European interlocutors, it said, “recognized the necessity to continue to support this key humanitarian task in Cyprus and bring closure to the bereaved families”.

African Union report cites mass graves in…

Colombia: Effective Missing Persons Process

Colombia 4

27 October 2015: Sunday’s provincial and municipal polls in Colombia were hailed as possibly the country’s “last war-time elections”, since the Government and the FARC guerrilla movement achieved a breakthrough in peace negotiations in Havana last month, committing themselves to conclude a final peace agreement by March 2016.

On 17 October the two sides agreed to create a special unit to search for the missing when the final peace agreement is signed.

ICMP Director-General Kathryne Bomberger said today that concrete progress towards peace has opened the door to tackling one of the major issues created by half a century of conflict.

“Colombia is facing an enormous challenge in addressing the issue of missing persons. The numbers are vast and the political and legal hurdles will be numerous.  However, successfully locating and identifying the missing is a necessary step to upholding the law, including ensuring…

Daily World News Digest, 27 October 2015

Netherlands taken to European Court over Srebrenica

Balkan Insight carried a story on 26 October saying that victims’ families filed a complaint to European Court of Human Rights against the Netherlands for failing to investigate whether its peacekeeping commanders in Srebrenica allowed Bosniaks to be killed. The appeal to Strasbourg comes after a military court in the Netherlands ruled in April that the commander of the Dutch UN battalion, Thomas Karremans, and his two officers could not be held responsible for not safeguarding Bosniak civilians who took refuge at their headquarters in Potočari near Srebrenica but instead handed them over to Bosnian Serb forces. The appeal was brought by Hasan Nuhanović, a Srebrenica survivor and former translator for the UN peacekeepers, and the family of Rizo Mustafić, who was killed by Bosnian Serb forces. Their lawyer said that the Dutch authorities should have opened a criminal investigation. The complaint was…

Daily World News Digest, 26 October 2015

Kenya: Muslim leaders ask UN to probe extrajudicial deaths and disappearances

The Star, a daily from Kenya, reported today that Muslim leaders want the UN to probe the national government over alleged extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances by security agencies. The leaders said the government should credibly investigate killings of Muslim youth. “We are perturbed by the continued disregard of the law, especially when it comes to dealing with terrorism,” the leaders said in a statement. The leaders drawn from 14 Muslim organizations from the 47 counties, said the government should investigate cases of human rights violations and bring the responsible officers to justice. The leaders have petitioned the UN Rapporteur on extrajudicial executions perpetuated by the government security machinery. They said the security agents have become “accusers, judges, juries and executioners”.

Indonesia’s official calls for resolution of Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict

Azer News, a daily from Azerbaijan, carried a story today…

Daily World News Digest, 23 October 2015

Enforced disappearances are not an issue of the past

Prothom Alo, a daily from Bangladesh, reported today that the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances has called on states to put on the top of their agenda the eradication of enforced disappearances. It also urged governments to address the changing nature of the problem due to new patterns of enforced disappearance, the growing activity of non-state actors and new types of victims. “We can’t pretend anymore it is just an issue of the past. Enforced disappearances continue to occur while we speak,” the Vice-chair of the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, Bernard Duhaime, told the UN General Assembly on Wednesday. The group said that disappearances have to be recognized as a modern-day issue in order to develop effective measures for its eradication. Since the beginning of the year, they have been working on 150 cases of enforced…

Daily World News Digest, 22 October 2015

Iraq: 365 bodies found in 19 different mass graves

Daily Pakistan reported today that Iraqi forces found 19 different mass graves containing the bodies of 365 fighters from the Islamic State group in the reconquered town of Baiji. An army officer confirmed a large number of bodies had been discovered in mass graves, but could not say how many and mentioned that some had also been found in another neighborhood. In a statement, the security forces said that the total number of discovered graves is 19. It said the mass graves were found in the Asri neighborhood of Baiji, 200 kilometers north of Baghdad, and contained a total of “365 bodies of Daesh terrorists”. It was not clear how long the bodies had been buried there, nor how all of them were identified as fighters. Baiji has been the scene of almost uninterrupted fighting in the past 16 months. Iraqi…

Daily World News Digest, 21 October 2015

Sri Lanka judge says war crimes claims are ‘’credible’’

The BBC reported today that a government-appointed Sri Lankan judge says allegations the army committed war crimes during the long conflict with Tamil Tiger rebels are “credible”. Judge Maxwell Paranagama led the first government inquiry into atrocities during the conflict. Paranagama’s presidential commission was widely criticized for limitations in its mandate. He has called on the government to set up an internationally-backed judicial inquiry, which was also recommended in a UN report released in September. The UN’s long-awaited report accused both sides of atrocities, especially during the final stages of the war in 2009.  Its main findings include: numerous unlawful killings between 2002 and 2011, allegedly by both sides; enforced disappearances affecting tens of thousands over decades; “brutal use of torture” by security forces, in particular during the immediate aftermath of the conflict; extensive sexual violence against detainees by the security…