Monthly Archives: September 2016

German Government Supports ICMP in Iraq


The German Government and the International Commission on Missing Persons today launched a new initiative to address the issue of missing and disappeared persons in Iraq. The project will focus on supporting ICMP’s work with the domestic authorities to secure and excavate mass graves in Sinjar and it may be extended to cover mass graves elsewhere in Iraq. Work will begin immediately.

ICMP is already helping authorities in Iraq to locate and identify thousands of people who were killed after Islamic State occupied the town of Sinjar in Northern Iraq in August 2014. The town was retaken by Kurdish forces in November 2015.

ICMP’s current work involves helping the authorities to strengthen operational and technical capacities, including providing training in mass grave exhumations, crime scene management, and mortuary procedures; providing guidance on effective operational planning, inter-agency cooperation and chain of custody; upgrading mortuary facilities;…

Daily World News Digest, 16 September 2016

Enforced disappearances: “urgent need to reverse a frightening trend”

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) reported yesterday that the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID) has warned that enforced disappearances are on the rise, and has expressed deep concern and frustration over what it defines as “a very frightening trend.”  Addressing the 33rd session of the UN Human Rights Council, members of the WGEID said: “We are seriously concerned that the number of enforced disappearances is increasingly rising with the false and pernicious belief that they are a useful tool to preserve national security and combat terrorism. During last year alone, we dealt with 483 urgent actions out of 766 newly reported cases of disappearance in 37 States; more than three times higher than those reflected in our previous year’s annual report. This means more than one disappearance per day, and obviously it…

Daily World News Digest, 15 September 2016

Kenya: 300 killed or kidnapped in anti-terror raids

Standard Media, a web portal from Kenya, carries a story today saying that more than 300 cases of terror-related killings and kidnappings have been recorded in the Coast region in the last three years. A report by the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) released in Mombasa yesterday indicates that those kidnapped in the region between 2013 and 2016 were all said to be “connected or sympathetic to terrorist groups”. The commission’s chairperson, Kagwiria Mbogori, said the inquiry’s report would be sent to the National Assembly and President Uhuru Kenyatta to inform reforms in the security sector.  She said the spate of extra-judicial killings and enforced disappearances at the Coast had escalated with the collapse of security in the last six years.

Family of Mexico’s Missing Challenge State-Led Efforts

TeleSUR reported yesterday that relatives of some of the more than 28,000 people…

Daily World News Digest, 14 September 2016

Sri Lanka government considers WGEID recommendations

The Sunday Leader news portal in Sri Lanka reported yesterday that the government of Sri Lanka has told the UN Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID) that it is studying the recommendations made by the Working Group with a view to their implementation. The Working Group has called on the government to take decisive steps to stop surveillance, threats, intimidation, harassment — including sexual harassment — and abuses against relatives of disappeared persons and those acting on their behalf, to guarantee the safety of those who met with the Working Group and protect them against any form of reprisal, threat or intimidation, and to instruct all public officials that those actions will not be tolerated and will be punished accordingly.

China: lawyers criticize judicial White Paper

Radio Free Asia reported today that rights lawyers have dismissed recent claims by the ruling Chinese…

Daily World News Digest, 13 September 2016

Zimbabwe activist missing since March 2015     

Human Rights Watch reported yesterday on the case of Itai Dzamara, a pro-democracy activist who was forcibly disappeared in March 2015 and is still missing. Dzamara had petitioned Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe to resign and to reform the electoral system. Two days before he was abducted, Dzamara addressed a large rally of the opposition MDC party, where he openly called for mass protests against President Mugabe’s government.

Zimbabwe politician to visit mass graves, a web portal from Zimbabwe, reported yesterday that Joice Mujuru, formerly a senior member of Robert Mugabe’s administration but now the leader of an opposition party, will visit mass graves of Gukurahundi victims in Matabeleland. Gukirahundi refers to a campaign carried out by the government of Zimbabwe in the mid-1980s to suppress opposition. Tens of thousands are believed to have died.

Human rights abuses and mass displacement in Syria

The Huffington…

Daily World News Digest, 9 September 2016

Nepalese officer acquitted of torture charges in London

The Kathmandu Post reported on 8 September on the case of Nepal Army Colonel Kumar Lama who was acquitted by a British court this week. Col Lama was arrested in 2013 under universal jurisdiction in the UK on a charge of torturing two suspected Maoist detainees in 2005 when he was in charge of a military barracks in south central Nepal. The Old Bailey acquitted Lama on Tuesday on a second count of torture: it had cleared him on a first count last month. Nepal drafted an anti-torture bill only after Lama’s arrest in the UK. The bill is in Parliament for discussion. The incident also prompted the government to form two separate transitional justice bodies—the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons— to look into the conflict era-cases.

Ecumenical Patriarch Visits Croatia WWII Concentration Camp

Balkan Insight

Daily World News Digest, 8 September 2016

DNA tests to identify Spain’s civil war dead

Al Jazeera reports today that Spain’s Catalonia region has launched the country’s first public DNA profiling project in a bid to identify some of the 114,000 people who disappeared during the nation’s civil war and subsequent dictatorship. The issue is hugely sensitive in Spain, where rights abuses during the 1936-1939 conflict and the ensuing 36-year rule of dictator Francisco Franco remain uninvestigated for fear of reviving divisions.

Rights group warns of impunity in Colombia

Human Rights Watch issued a statement yesterday expressing concern that the victims’ agreement that is part of Colombia’s peace settlement violates the country’s obligations under the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance and will further compound impunity for enforced disappearances committed in the country. The agreement creates a new Special Jurisdiction for Peace, which will handle crimes that are “directly and indirectly related…

Daily World News Digest, 7 September 2016

EU lawmakers seek help to preserve Syria, Iraq mass graves 

Voice of America reported on 6 September that European Union lawmakers want help to preserve 72 mass graves in Syria and Iraq documented by the Associated Press, so that the evidence can be used to bring Islamic State group members to trial. Romanian Socialist lawmaker Victor Bostinaru said Tuesday that “the preservation of this evidence is today of utmost importance.” His Austrian colleague Josef Weidenholzer said time is pressing because the gravesites are only roughly covered and exposed to dogs and the weather.

Three new mass graves found in Iraq

Press TV reports today that Iraqi fighters from pro-government militia have found three mass graves containing the remains of over two dozen victims of a June 2014 massacre by Islamic State at an air force camp inside former dictator Saddam Hussein’s palace compound in Tikrit in the north-central province of…

Daily World News Digest, 6 September 2016

Lawyer disappears in Egypt

All Africa reported yesterday that on 2 September the Alkarama NGO sent a report to the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances on the case of Mohammad Mahmoud Sadeq Ahmed, an Egyptian lawyer who disappeared on 30 August. Alkarama reports that Mahmoud Sadeq Ahmed was abducted by police officers in Giza train station and has since gone missing, with the authorities refusing to provide information on him. “His case adds to the thousands of disappearances that occurred in the country and that Alkarama has been extensively documenting in recent months,” the report said.

Papua New Guinea: calls for a monument to the missing

Radio New Zealand reports today that the Autonomous Bougainville Government is being called on to honor those missing as a result of Papua New Guinea’s civil war with a monument. Each year those missing from the conflict are remembered on the International…

Daily World News Digest, 5 September 2016

Enforced disappearances in Syria

On 1 September the Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) sent an open letter to the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini and EI foreign ministers. The letter concerns detainees and missing persons in Syria. It says that across Syria, tens of thousands of innocent civilians are currently being subjected to torture, starvation and sexual violence in government prisons.  Since March 2011 over 17,000 people have died in government prisons and approximately 65,000 have gone missing, the SNHR says. It cites “many more cases of forced disappearances, not documented in these figures, believed to be in secret regime prisons and detention facilities”.

Mass graves continue to be unearthed in Veracruz, Mexico

Telesur carried a story on 4 September saying that citizens and activists have spoken out against the practice of forced disappearance and targeted assassinations that are “common in the state of…