Families receive Greek missing remains
In-Cyprus news portal reported on 18 January that the remains of seven Greek nationals missing since the 1974 Turkish invasion have been handed over to their relatives after being identified with DNA. Relatives attended a brief military ceremony Monday at Cyprus’ National Guard headquarters where they received the remains which will be flown to Greece aboard a military transport aircraft. The remains had been found in mass graves through Committee on Missing Persons (CMP) efforts. Chair of the Panhellenic Committee of relatives of Undeclared Prisoners and Missing Maria Kalpourtzi said: “The fate of more than half of the Greek missing has yet to be determined.’’ http://bit.ly/1Stl6n9
Second Hong Kong bookseller confirmed to be in mainland China
Bloomberg Business reported today that Chinese police have confirmed that Lee Bo, a Hong Kong publisher of books critical of the Communist Party who disappeared from the city in late…
Kosovo war crimes court to be established in The Hague
The Jurist magazine carried a story on 17 January saying that the Dutch government on Friday announced the establishment of a special court being set up in The Hague to investigate and try alleged war crimes committed by ethnic Albanian rebels during and after Kosovo’s 1998-99 guerilla war. According to the government announcement, the court will be called Kosovo Relocated Specialist Judicial Institution and will be funded by the European Union. The court, made up of international judges, will apply Kosovo laws, making it a Kosovan national court administering justice outside of Kosovo rather than an international tribunal. http://bit.ly/1nt4vTK
Syria conflict: Conflicting accounts of Deir al-Zour attack
The BBC reported on 17 January that Islamic State militants in Syria are said to have abducted 400 civilians during a bloody assault on the eastern city of Deir al-Zour. The Syrian Observatory for…
The search for Vietnam’s war dead: Largest ever DNA identification project is underway
The Daily Mail carried a story on 14 January saying that over 40 years after the end of the Vietnam War, the remains of unnamed civilians and fighters are still being unearthed. Now efforts have begun to identify the bones of half a million Vietnamese who went missing during the conflict between 1955 and 1975. The Vietnamese government has promised to invest $25 million in upgrading three existing DNA testing centers. The team will also use techniques developed by the International Commission on Missing Persons. ICMP helped to identify nearly all the people who were killed in the Srebrenica massacre of 1995 as well as others slain during the conflict in former Yugoslavia. http://dailym.ai/1JNZW09
Three mass graves found in Deir ez-Zor, Syria
Ahlulbayt News Agency reported on 14 January that three mass graves were found in the…
Thailand: End impunity for enforced disappearances
Human Rights Watch issued a statement today saying that the Thai government should immediately act to end enforced disappearances in Thailand. The government should make enforced disappearance a criminal offense and take serious steps to bring those responsible for this human rights violation to justice. On 29 December, 2015 the Supreme Court acquitted five police officers charged in the March 2004 disappearance of a prominent human rights lawyer, Somchai Neelapaijit, despite the admission by then-Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra that the police were responsible. Since 1980, the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance has recorded 82 cases of enforced disappearance in Thailand http://bit.ly/1Pt10mO
Mexico: Gross incompetence and inertia fuels disappearances epidemic
Amnesty International issued a news today saying that systemic incompetence and a complete lack of will by State and Federal authorities in Mexico to properly search for and investigate the disappearance of thousands…
ICMP to assist Vietnam in identifying war dead
Nature, international weekly of science, carried a story on 12 January saying that smart DNA technologies will be used to identify the bones of the half a million or more Vietnamese soldiers and civilians who are thought still to be missing. The ICMP will also have a role in training Vietnamese scientists in regards to critical aspects of identification. ‘’It was possible to extract useful levels of DNA from around 80% of the bones from the Srebrenica victims’’, says Thomas Parsons, head of the ICMP lab. ‘’The Vietnamese bones have been in the ground for longer and in a more damaging climate, but highly optimized methods and careful selection of skeletal samples will help’’, he says. http://bit.ly/1TU6SJD
Inquiry into missing and murdered women in Canada needs funding, advocates say
The Globe and Mail, a daily from Canada, carried a story on 12 January…
ICMP’s January newsletter reported on an initiative designed to promote dialogue on the missing persons process in the Western Balkans and the role of families in this process. Activities included innovative workshops that explored ways of articulating, sharing and coming to terms with key issues. Objectives included building empathy between young people and older family members through personal narratives; helping participants to understand how the missing persons issue affects different generations in different ways; encouraging older family members to identify positive forces that can help take the missing persons process forward; and fostering dialogue between young people and older family members.
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The February issue examined gender roles in conflict, starting out with the observation that in order to achieve lasting peace, it is imperative that women become active participants in decision-making. The experiences of women in dealing with war – and…
ICMP’s Daily World News Digest brings together news stories dealing with enforced disappearances and missing persons cases from around the world. It offers a snapshot of daily events and over a longer period it highlights key trends.
At the end of 2015 the number of reported cases of enforced disappearance in Egypt continued to rise.
On 1 December Daily News Egypt reported the case of Sherif El-Afifi, a 26-year-old university graduate who was detained by Egyptian security forces near Giza the previous week and had not been heard from since. He was the second youth from the same district to be detained by security forces, and activists said nothing had been heard from the other youth. The Egypt Independent web portal carried a story on 6 December about a dispute between a human rights organization and a political commentator over…
One year after the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Belgium, Sweden and Luxembourg signed the Agreement on the Status and Functions of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP), three more countries – Cyprus, Chile and Serbia – signed the Treaty in December 2015. El Salvador had become a signatory in November.
The Agreement recognizes ICMP as an international organization tasked with assisting countries in their efforts to address missing persons cases from conflict, human rights abuses, disasters, organized crime, migration and other causes.
By becoming signatories, countries declare their commitment to dealing with the issue of missing persons, and this…
By Kathryne Bomberger,
Two events in the first half of December helped to put the issue of missing persons back at the top of the policy agenda in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The first was a call by families of the missing, through the Regional Coordination of associations of families of Missing Persons, meeting in Sarajevo, for the authorities to maintain their support for the process of reviewing unidentified remains stored in Bosnia and Herzegovina’s mortuaries.
Everyone present at the meeting, including 16 of the most active BIH associations of families of the missing, prosecutors from all levels in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the Missing Persons Institute (MPI) Board of Directors, agreed that the issue of possible misidentifications made prior to the introduction of DNA testing must be addressed through mass collection of reference samples. The next step, which also had unanimous support, is to develop…
By Kevin Sullivan
When the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID) visited Peru in the middle of 2015, WEIGD Chief Ariel Dulitzky noted that – at the current rate of location and identification of missing persons – it would take more than 100 years to account for all of the individuals still missing from the civil conflict of the 1980s and 1990s. Of 15,000 victims of enforced disappearance, around 1,300 have so far been accounted for.
According to a number of studies, in the war between Government security forces and left wing rebels (principally Shining Path and the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement) the armed forces were responsible for most of the illegal detentions and killings, with disappearances being used as a matter of policy at the height of the insurgency. However, only a handful of military officers have…