After 20 years, Guatemala grapples with imperfect peace
Telesur released an article yesterday on the 20th anniversary of the end of the civil war in Guatemala. The conflict left at least 200,000 civilian victims, the report says, adding that, according to the UN Truth Commission, the Guatemalan military carried out over 600 massacres against unarmed communities — mostly rural indigenous Mayans — as part of a counterinsurgency strategy that resulted in genocide. It is estimated that 45,000 people were forcibly disappeared by State security forces during the 36-year conflict. Since then hundreds of bodies have been uncovered in mass graves across the country. http://bit.ly/2iJ2LHK
Israel opens database on missing children
The Times of Israel reported on 28 december that Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, inaugurated an online database on Wednesday that gives the public full access to some 400,000 pages of declassified documents that the state hopes will help bring closure…
Chinese human rights activist detained
newsx reported yesterday that a Chinese activist and founder of a human rights website has been accused of “subversion of state power”, a charge frequently used against dissidents in China. Liu Feiyue, who founded Civil Rights and Livelihood Watch, was arrested in November at his house in Suizhou province over accusations he had received foreign aid to incite subversion in the country. Liu’s family said the police did not inform them where he was taken to, nor did they hand over any document confirming his arrest although this is a requirement under the Chinese public security system. http://bit.ly/2igDyBF
The cemetery of unknown Mediterranean migrants
Aljazeera publishes an article today on the efforts of a community in Tunisia to provide a dignified burial to thousands of unidentified migrants who have been washed up on the nearby shore. More than 4,400 people have died or gone missing this…
UN call to preserve evidence of crimes in Aleppo
Tass carries an article today stating that the UN hopes evidence of crimes in eastern Aleppo will be preserved until its monitors gain access to mass graves in the city. A Russian Defense Ministry spokesman told reporters on Monday that mass graves of civilians who had been tortured and massacred had been found in Aleppo. “My understanding is that we do not yet have access to the area in East Aleppo, but that if there is evidence of a war crime we would expect it to be appropriately preserved,” Stephane Dujarric said. http://bit.ly/2iqg7W3
Russian military report mass graves of civilians in Aleppo
Deutsche Welle carried a story on 26 December saying that Russia’s military had reported finding the tortured bodies of civilians in mass graves in Aleppo on Monday, allegedly left there by rebel groups. Troops found dozens of bodies, many shot…
Mass graves found in eastern Aleppo
Deutsche Welle reported yesterday that the Russian military has found the tortured bodies of civilians in mass graves in Aleppo, allegedly left there by rebel groups. Troops found dozens of bodies, many shot in the head and showing signs of abuse and mutilation, Defense Ministry spokesperson Major General Igor Konashenkov said. “Mass graves containing dozens of Syrians who were summarily executed and subjected to savage torture have been discovered.” http://bit.ly/2hsYPKZ
Dozens of Brazilian migrants missing near Bahamas
World Bulletin, carried an article yesterday stating that at least 19 Brazilians who had gone missing last month while trying to reach the United States illegally are believed to have drowned off the Bahamas. Officials suspect the vessel capsized on the 80-kilometer crossing between the Bahamas and the Florida coast. There were likely dozens of other migrants on board. There…
Growing number of children missing in India
The Hindu reported today that the Madras High Court has criticized the Tamil Nadu State government’s laxity in tracing missing children. The issue of missing children has become a national problem which needs to be tackled efficiently and at the earliest, the paper says. Statistics show that over 60,000 children go missing every year in the country. In the past year, 2,953 children have gone missing in Uttar Pradesh. There are also concerns about the number of girls who go missing, which, besides being particularly high, is often connected to human trafficking. http://bit.ly/2ie0YdG
Call for probe into enforced disappearances in Southeast Nigeria
The Guardian, a news outlet in Nigeria, released an article today stating that 42 civil society organizations have called on the Federal Government and governors of Abia and Anambra states to initiate an independent investigation into allegations of serious human rights violations…
Iraq: identifying victims buried in mass graves
Business Insider carried an AFP story yesterday describing dozens of mass graves discovered in areas around Iraq that have been recaptured from Da’esh. Speaking at one of the sites, Fawaz Abdulabbas, deputy head of the International Commission on Missing Persons program in Iraq, said, “It really is a crime scene. Between 80 and 100 bodies are here, including those of women and children.” Now investigators face the enormous task of piecing together details of what happened to victims, and determining who they were. http://read.bi/2hZKZfJ
Wives of missing Thai, Lao activists seek action over disappearances
Reuters reported yesterday that the wives of three prominent Southeast Asian human rights campaigners who went missing after being detained by the authorities have united to urge Laos and Thailand to end impunity over forced disappearances. All three women have become vocal critics of forced disappearances in a region…
Migration and Refugees
Common Dreams news portal reported on 5 October that more than 10,000 people were rescued on 3 and 4 October from vessels attempting the dangerous Mediterranean crossing to Italy. Many didn’t survive: AFP reported on Wednesday that 28 bodies had been recovered. The BBC reported on 12 October on the large number of unaccompanied migrant children missing in Europe. Telesur carried a story on 18 October noting that a staggering 71 percent of migrants fleeing war and insecurity in North Africa have been victims of exploitation and human and organ trafficking. Reuters reported on 17 October that Egypt had passed legislation to crack down on people traffickers linked to a major surge in the numbers of migrants departing from the country’s Mediterranean coast on often disastrous sea journeys to Europe. CBS News carried an article…
The 1992 agreement that ended 12 years of civil war in El Salvador created conditions for this country of just over six million people to move decisively away from conflict. A generation later, the casualty rate from gang violence exceeds 1980s levels.
Whereas the war pitted a land-owning class and its military allies against agricultural workers and urban intellectuals, today’s violence is sustained by competition among narco-gangs. In August 2015, after the end of a controversial truce between government and gangs under the presidency of Mauricio Funes (2009-14), the Supreme Court classified two of the most powerful gangs, MS-13 and Barrio 18, as terrorist organizations.
During the “truce”, the official homicide rate did go down, but critics argue that this was because gangs simply murdered more discreetly, burying victims in clandestine graves. The disposal of cadavers in secret locations is now well established…
ICMP participated on 14 October in a panel debate in Washington DC on tackling UN Sustainable Development Goal 16 (on Peace and Justice) in the digital age, focusing on innovations for Peace and Justice.
Speaking at a panel discussion on “Playing catch up with Silicon Valley – what needs to change in the coming five years”, ICMP’s Director of Science & Technology, Dr. Thomas Parsons, explored the challenges and the promise of integrating new technologies such as affordable real-time satellite imagery, access to social media and other forms of big data, and revolutionary DNA methods, to deliver concrete advances in missing persons registration and identification and mass grave discovery. Dr. Parsons also examined ways in which these can be applied to improve justice mechanisms, societal security, human rights and the rule of law.
The debate was hosted by the Hague Humanity Hub and the…
By Jacopo Guidi
Climate change has contributed to a destabilization of the global ecosystem, reflected in an increasing incidence of disasters such as typhoons and flooding. Terror attacks around the world have also increased the need for missing persons investigations, including measures to identify human remains in emergency circumstances. The initial emergency response to a disaster is key to saving lives and accounting for the missing. The extent of the damage and the area involved (think, for example, of a hurricane) or a lack of reliable information can make these crucial initial interventions chaotic and difficult to organize.
Over the course of 20 years, ICMP has developed an unrivaled range of expertise in responding to large missing persons scenarios. Since 2000 it has conducted the world’s largest missing persons DNA testing program, having…