Monthly Archives: May 2016

Daily World News Digest, 31 May 2016

Migrants rescued off Lefkada on Greece-Italy sea route

The BBC, reports today that Greek rescuers have picked up 29 migrants at sea off the western island of Lefkada as they headed for Italy. It is the first time migrants have been rescued trying to cross from Greece to Italy since Greece’s land border with Macedonia was closed in March. The migrants had sailed from Lefkada and were picked up about 15 nautical mile (27km) from the island. Two children, aged four and five, were among the group. In the past week the focus has switched to the central Mediterranean, because of a surge in the numbers of migrants making the long, perilous voyage from Libya to Lampedusa and Sicily.

Nepal: Number of complaints of disappearances exceed official data

The Himalayan Times reports today that the Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons has received more disappearance-related complaints than the number…

Daily World News Digest, 30 May 2016

ICMP: the dead deserve a name

NRC Handelsblad, a daily from the Netherlands, carried an interview today with ICMP Director-General Kathryne Bomberger, who described the “psychological torture” experienced by those who do not to know the whereabouts of missing loved ones. Ms Bomberger reviewed ICMP’s evolution since 1996, when it was established to spearhead the effort to account for the 40,000 people who were missing as a result of the conflict in former Yugoslavia, until today, when it is active in different parts of the world, including an initiative to help account for missing migrants. Since the beginning of 2014, around 1,250 men, women and children who tried to cross the Mediterranean have been buried anonymously, the article notes. Ms Bomberger stressed that thanks to rapid technological developments, it is becoming faster and easier to identify missing persons on a large scale (article in Dutch).

ICMP tackles global issue…

Daily World News Digest, 27 May 2016

Sri Lanka: Call for more consultations on missing persons office

Human Rights Watch issued a statement today noting that the Sri Lankan government had ratified the Convention against Enforced Disappearance but in the same week had created an Office of Missing Persons without promised consultations with families of the disappeared. It said the government should honor its pledge to hold meaningful consultations with affected families and nongovernmental representatives about the missing persons office and the other transitional justice mechanisms. On 24 May, the Sri Lankan cabinet approved the new Office of Missing Persons.

Bangladesh: Families demand return of their disappeared loved ones

The Asian Human Rights Commission issued a statement today noting that members of families of 19 disappeared victims once again took to the street on Thursday. They formed a human chain in front of the National Press Club in Dhaka to demand the return of loved ones during…

The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg recently ratified the Agreement on the Status and Functions of the ICMP

Luxembourg 2

The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg recently ratified ( the Agreement on the Status and Functions of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP). The Agreement was signed by Luxembourg, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Sweden and Belgium in December 2014 and entered into force in October last year. Following the original Signatories, Chile, Cyprus, El Salvador and Serbia signed the Agreement in 2015. ICMP Director-General Kathryne Bomberger thanked the Luxembourg Ambassador to the Netherlands Pierre – Louis Lorenz for the generous financial and diplomatic support that Luxembourg has provided to ICMP over many years.

Daily World News Digest, 26 May 2016

Sri Lanka to set up Office on Missing Persons

The Hindu reports today that the Sri Lankan government has decided to set up an Office on Missing Persons (OMP), one of the four mechanisms proposed to deal with grievances related to the long conflict. The OMP will not engage in prosecutions. However, it will have the power to investigate for the purpose of clarifying the fate of missing persons and the circumstances related to the disappearance, and communicating the status to relatives of the missing persons. The existing official body, set up during the regime of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa has so far received complaints related to nearly 24,000 persons including 5,000 members of the security forces.

Three journalists disappear in Colombia

CNN reported on 25 May that Spanish journalist Salud Hernandez has gone missing while working on a story in Catatumbo, a remote region in northern Colombia with a…

Daily World News Digest, 25 May 2016

One child goes missing every five hours in South Africa

IOL, a South African newspaper group, reported on 24 May that a child goes missing every five hours in South Africa, according to the Missing Persons Bureau. The report noted that Wednesday is International Missing Children’s Day, which is an opportunity to raise awareness and funds to reunite children with their families. In 2015, 12 missing children were found dead in South Africa. A total of 37 percent of missing children were white, 31 percent coloured and 28 percent black; 42 percent of missing children had run away from home.

Thailand: Press junta to end torture, ‘disappearances’

Human Rights Watch issued a statement on 24 May caling on the Thai government to act promptly on pledges to make torture and enforced disappearance criminal offenses. On 24 May 2016, Thailand’s government announced it would submit a bill to criminalize torture and…

The missing in Asia


By Bert Segier

On 26 April, Sri Lankan Ambassador to The Netherlands A.M.J. Sadiq hosted a meeting of Asian Ambassadors in The Hague to discuss the issue of missing persons in Asia. Participants included the ambassadors of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippines and Vietnam.

Asian countries are faced with diverse causes of missing and disappeared persons, which include armed conflict, migration, natural disasters, manmade disasters and criminal acts. Numbers of the missing are calculated in hundreds of thousands – and the number of those who are left behind to search for the missing are much greater. Consequently, those affected by the issue are not just the direct victims themselves but their friends, family members and society at large.

At the April meeting in The Hague, the Sri Lankan Ambassador rightly stressed that “the issue of missing persons…

Scientists from Vietnam Complete Training at ICMP

Vietnam 1

By Lejla Softic

Two groups of three research scientists from the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology (VAST) successfully completed a three-week training program at ICMP’s facilities in Bosnia and Herzegovina in April.

The Hanoi Government estimates that more than 1.1 million North Vietnamese Army personnel and Viet Cong (pro-communist South Vietnamese irregulars) were killed or went missing in the 30 years of fighting before 1975. Around 300,000 are still missing. In addition, between 50,000 and 65,000 North Vietnamese civilians and between 195,000 and 430,000 South Vietnamese civilians died as a result of the conflict.

Although the United States has repatriated and identified most of its war dead, Vietnam has so far identified just a few hundred people, using outdated forensic techniques. Yet thousands of families are desperate to locate the remains of missing relatives.

The six Vietnamese scientists who have been trained at ICMP…

Accountability for the missing and disappeared in Guatemala


Guatemala 2

Bojana Djokanovic examines Guatemala’s 20-year effort to account for the missing from almost four decades of conflict

Guatemala is the most populous country in Latin America, with the highest birth rate and the highest population growth rate. Poverty is endemic and health and development challenges are severe. The indigenous population, mostly of Mayan descent, constitute 60 percent of the overall population, and continue to lag behind the non-indigenous population in social statistics: they are 2.8 times poorer and have 13 years’ less life expectancy; meanwhile, only 5 percent of university students are indigenous. Twenty-one different Maya groups live in Guatemala making up an estimated 51 % of the national population. A period of social and economic reform in the 1940s and 50s was followed by 36 years of internal conflict that began in 1960, pitting a right-wing regime against a…

Nigeria struggles to address legacy of Zaria killings

Nigeria 2

Lejla Hodzic examines the December 2015 events in Zaria, Nigeria, and considers their implications for the issue of missing persons in Nigeria and beyond 

Since 1992, Nigeria has experienced a cycle of inter-communal violence that the authorities have been unable to break. Kaduna State in central Nigeria has been one of the worst affected by targeted killings and human rights abuses based on religious and ethnic discrimination. Endemic bribery and corruption have undermined the capacity of the judicial system to prevent this violence, and divisive local politics have compounded this situation, creating a pervasive culture of impunity.

The military campaign against Boko Haram has led to an increase in violent episodes in Kaduna State, including widespread and serious human rights violations. The killing of more than 300 supporters of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), a Shi’ite Muslim minority group, in December 2015,…