Yearly Archives: 2016

Daily World News Digest, 11 April 2016

Officials in northern Mexican city hope experts can help find missing

Fox News Latino reported on 10 April that Ciudad Cuauhtemoc, a city in the northern Mexican state of Chihuahua, has a long history of unsolved disappearances, but the relatives of the missing have not given up hope and are asking the government to allow Argentine experts to examine the remains found in mass graves in the area. Mass graves have been found in three places near Ciudad Cuauhtemoc in recent years. Last Thursday, relatives and activists met with Mexican Undersecretary for Human Rights Roberto Campa, who assured them that the remains pending analysis would be protected until a final agreement was reached on examining them.

Egypt Interior Ministry investigates 12 more cases of enforced disappearances

Daily News Egypt reported on 9 April that Minister of Interior Magdy Abdel Ghaffar ordered to investigate more complaints presented by the National Council…

Daily World News Digest, 8 April 2016

Syria conflict: IS ‘abducts hundreds of factory workers’

The BBC reported on 7 April that at least 200 people are reported missing after a suspected attack by the so-called Islamic State (IS) on a cement factory near Damascus. Workers were reportedly taken from a dormitory where they were staying on the outskirts of the town of Dumeir. A factory administrator said no-one had been able to contact the workers since the assault on Monday. The area around Dumeir has seen fierce fighting between government forces and IS militants in recent days.

Yemen’s looming migrant crisis

The Wall Street Journal carried a story on 7 April saying that migrants are eager to cross the Bab el Mandeb, a dangerous stretch of water separating them from the Arabian Peninsula. Known as the “gateway to grief,” the strait’s treacherous waters have swallowed more than 3,700 African migrants since 2006. Saudi Arabia is their…

Daily World News Digest, 7 April 2016

Italy to start underwater recovery of «at least 400» migrant bodies

Europe Online Magazine reported today that Italy will start the underwater recovery of bodies from a shipwreck off Libya on the one-year anniversary of what is considered the worst ever Mediterranean migration accident, an Interior Ministry official. Prefect Vittorio Piscitelli, a special envoy for missing persons, said the Italian Navy believes that “at least 400” victims will be found inside the hold of the vessel, which lies about 157km northeast of the Libyan coast, 375m below sea level. Piscitelli said the navy, or Marina Militare, was going to lift up the vessel, cover it up and refrigerate it to conserve the bodies, and tow it to the Sicilian NATO naval base of Melilli, where forensic teams will work on identifying the bodies. In the immediate aftermath of the shipwreck on 18 April, 2015, rescue teams found 24 bodies and 28…

Daily World News Digest, 6 April 2016

Missing Persons Commission report to President in July

Daily News Sri Lanka reported today that the Commission on Missing Persons will hand over the report containing its recommendations to President Maithripala Sirisena in July this year, Commission secretary W.H. Gunadasa said. He said the Commission had recorded evidence from nearly 7,000 persons so far including people from Jaffna, Vavuniya, Mullaitivu and Mannar districts. Commission members had visited Mannar and Vavuniya districts twice and the Mullaithivu district thrice to record evidence as needed. Former High Court Judge Maxwell Paranagama is the Commission chairman.

Refugee deportations to Turkey slowed over asylum paperwork, allegations of missing persons

Albawaba News reported on 5 April that there was a lull in deportations of refugees from Greek islands to Turkey on Tuesday, amid Greek denials that some migrants had gone missing. The return of refugees from Greece to Turkey in line with an EU-Turkey deal began…

Daily World News Digest, 5 April 2016

How satellites are being used to expose human rights abuses

The Guardian carried a story on 4 April saying that it was the satellite images showing recently disturbed ground that seemed to provide the final confirmation that the Burundi authorities had dug a mass grave to bury victims killed by police in the Buringa area late last year. Tools known as geospatial technology that map and analyze the earth have been used to expose injustices and human rights abuses. But the huge impact and success of this satellite-based research only works when it is effectively combined with other research methods, says Christoph Koettl, emergency response manager at Amnesty International US.

Forced disappearances a black hole in Thai justice system

Latin American Herald Tribune reported today that it has been nearly two years since Phinnapha Phrueksaphan’s husband went missing after being detained by forest guards, but she is yet to find…

Daily World News Digest, 4 April 2016

Bangladesh cyber expert becomes symbol for enforced disappearances

Voice of America carried a story on 3 April saying that before Bangladeshi cyber security expert Tanvir Hassan Zoha was abducted by unidentified men in Dhaka last month, he had expressed fears he could be arrested for his comments to the media about an $81 million cyber heist. Zoha’s family claimed that his comment criticizing the bank’s senior officials might have played a role behind his disappearance. The computer expert is now back at home after a week missing, but he is not talking about who took him, or why. Most of those who became victims of enforced disappearances in the country were activists and leaders of the parties which are in opposition.

Pakistan Human Rights Commission seeks thorough probe into missing journalist

The Hindu reported on 3 April that Pakistan’s Human Rights Commission has sought a thorough probe into the mysterious…

How DNA profiling helped unravel the horror of Bosnia’s genocide


(This article appeared in New Scientist)

Bringing Radovan Karadzic to book for his part in war crimes in the former Yugoslavia included groundbreaking use of mass DNA evidence, says Thomas John Parsons.

Radovan Karadzic is beginning a 40-year sentence after being found guilty of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in the former Yugoslavia. It marks the end of a trial that began in 2010 at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.

Prominent among the former Bosnian Serb leader’s offences during the Bosnian conflict was his role in the Srebrenica genocide, in which 8,000 Bosniak (muslim) men and boys were executed over four days in July 1995.

Identifying victims was a crucial part of ensuring justice was done. Forensic work connected with this conflict became the largest DNA identification project the world had seen, carried out by the International Commission on Missing Persons…

Daily World News Digest, 1 April 2016

How DNA profiling helped unravel the horror of Bosnia’s genocide

The New Scientist magazine carries an article by Thomas Parsons, ICMP’s Director of Forensic Sciences, commenting on the 40-year sentence handed down by the ICTY in the case of Radovan Karadzic. Dr Parsons notes that identifying victims was a crucial part of ensuring that justice was done. Forensic work connected with the conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina became the largest DNA identification project ever undertaken. Advanced profiling techniques and a DNA database enabled identifications that would have been impossible otherwise and allowed scientific data to be used as evidence, restarting a stalled identification process that had reached its limit using traditional means. War criminals such as Karadzic now face legal mechanisms that can turn to rigorous scientific methods for pursuing justice.

Korean War remains returned from South Korea

The BBC reported on 31 March that more than 60 years…

Daily World News Digest, 31 March 2016

Experts from ICMP train Kurds on unearthing, documenting mass graves in Shingal

Rudaw news portal reported on 30 March that in its campaign to have the massacre of Yezidi Kurds in Shingal recognized as genocide and bringing war criminals to justice, the Kurdistan Region has reached out to international experts for training. Four experts from the Iraq Program of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) began a four-day crash course Monday, training Kurdish investigators on everything from unearthing mass graves to protecting and preparing evidence for international presentation. The training includes data collection, assessment and identification, team safety, documentation and protecting evidence.

Amnesty International Philippines dismayed with Aquino’s human rights record

Inquirrer, a daily from the Philippines, reported today that with his six-year term about to end in three months, Amnesty International Philippines (AIP) expressed dismay with the performance of President Aquino in addressing and stopping human rights violations….

Daily World News Digest, 30 March 2016

Mexico says experts investigating 43 students will cease work in April

Reuters reported on 29 March that an international panel of experts that picked apart the Mexican government’s account of what happened to 43 students who disappeared in 2014 will cease work in the country by late April, a senior government official said. Deputy Interior Minister Roberto Campa said the experts’ time in Mexico would come to a close by the end of April. “It should be Mexican institutions … that conclude the investigation, the search, and we should be capable of advancing in the attention we pay to the victims,” Campa said.

Thailand refugee policy scrutinized as China pursues dissidents

Voice of America carried a story today saying that human rights and refugee civil society organizations say Thailand’s policies towards asylum seekers and refugees has hardened in recent years. In the past year, dozens of Chinese asylum-seekers have been…