Monthly Archives: February 2016

Ukraine’s Forgotten Missing and Disappeared

Since the spring of 2014 when conflict (“counter-terrorism”, as it is more often described by parties on both sides) began in Eastern Ukraine, thousands are believed to have gone missing as a result of refugee flight, fighting, reprisals and abductions. Following Russia’s annexation of Crimea in March 2014, a marked deterioration in the human rights environment on the peninsula has been reported. Despite the “Minsk 2” agreement of February 2015, which provided for a ceasefire but which has never been fully implemented, human rights organizations and media continue to report widespread human rights abuses and casualties in Eastern Ukraine.

As a consequence of the conflict, it is estimated that 86,000 people have been internally displaced, over 6,000 have been injured and more than 3,000 have been killed. The exact number of those…

A Cornerstone of Peacemaking


By Thomas Miller and Kathryne Bomberger

Today, the number of missing and disappeared persons (MDPs) around the world as a result of conflict and political unrest can be measured in millions. This means millions of families may never know the fate of a loved one. It means millions of reasons for fear, for anger, and for alienation.

From Sri Lanka to Mexico to Pakistan, addressing the issue of MDPs is a prerequisite for political and social recovery. Over the last two decades a new consensus has emerged that resolving this issue is a cornerstone of peacemaking.

The International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP), established in 1996 at the initiative of former President Bill Clinton to help the authorities in the Western Balkans account for 40,000 persons missing as a result of the Yugoslav conflict, is leading a concerted effort to turn this emerging international consensus…

Enforced Disappearances in China

Lejla Hodzic examines legal and extra-legal strategies adopted by the authorities in China in an apparent bid to stifle dissent.

When the Chinese authorities arrested or detained more than 280 lawyers and activists in July 2015, the move was viewed as an explicit crackdown on human rights. Not only were detainees prevented from practicing law – and therefore prevented from pursuing human rights cases through legal channels – they were held in conditions that are tantamount to enforced disappearance.

Regularizing the conditions of detention for some, in January this year the Chinese authorities raised formal charges against seven lawyers who had been held in secret detention.

Consistent with a systematic effort to maintain legality while restricting the scope for human rights advocacy by members of the legal profession, the authorities recently amended…

Human Rights in Nigeria – Chibok Abductions and Disappearances


Bojana Djokanovic examines the challenge to Nigerian society posed by mass abductions by insurgent groups and military counter-terrorism operations in the northeast of the country.

Nearly two years since the abduction of about 270 girls from Chibok, Borno State, northeast Nigeria, in April 2014 by Boko Haram, the whereabouts of more than 200 of these girls remains unknown. Boko Haram has waged a six-year insurgency to establish an Islamist state in the northeast of Africa’s biggest economy and pledged allegiance to Islamic State in 2015. The Chibok kidnapping sparked an international social media campaign, #BringBackOurGirls, which has included participation by Nigerian citizens and activists and by international celebrities and politicians. The campaign has amplified awareness of Boko Haram kidnappings of young women and made this one of the most known…

The Tragedy of Missing Young People and Children


The Mediterranean “refugee and migrant crisis” has led to an increasing number of children and minors going missing on dangerous routes to safety and a better life. At the end of January, EUROPOL Chief of Staff Brian Donald told The Observer newspaper that more than 10,000 children and unaccompanied minors may have gone missing since the start of the crisis. The authorities believe some of these unaccounted for children may be victims of trafficking, slavery, sexual exploitation and other criminal activities. These include children who have begun their journeys unaccompanied, or whose parents or guardians died along the way, or who were forcibly taken from their parents on the migrant and refugee route.

While as many as 5,000 children may have disappeared in Italy alone, the Council of Europe has…