Monthly Archives: March 2017

Daily World News Digest, 31 March 2017

Tackling disappearances in Syria through international law

News Deeply, a New York-based news and social enterprise portal, yesterday published an in-depth analysis of the first criminal case against Syrian officials to be accepted in a foreign court, and the impact it will have on bringing perpetrators of abuse in Syria to justice. On Monday, a Spanish judge ordered an investigation into allegations that Syrian government officials committed state terrorism – a case that international lawyers Almudena Bernabeu and Maite Parejo have been building since 2016. This is the first criminal case against Syrian president Bashar al-Assad’s government to be accepted in a Western court. Bernabeu, Parejo and their colleagues at Guernica 37 International Chambers argued that the laws of universal jurisdiction permit Spain’s national court to prosecute nine Syrian government officials allegedly linked to the disappearance and death of Abdulmuemen Alhaj Hamdo. The Syrian truck driver was detained in early 2013 and allegedly tortured and…

Daily World News Digest, 30 March 2017

Turkey continues funding effort to account for missing in Cyprus

Turkey on Wednesday donated €92,000 to the project of exhumation, identification and return of remains of missing persons in Cyprus. According to the Committee on Missing Persons (CMP) in Cyprus, the donation brings Turkish financial assistance to the CMP to a total of €826,000 over the past 10 years. The remains of 750 missing persons from events in the 1960s and 70s have been identified and returned to the families. More than 1,000 people are still missing.

Up to 146 refugees drowned as boat sinks off Libyan coast

The Independent reported yesterday that up to 146 people have died in the latest refugee boat sinking in the Mediterranean as efforts to stop the treacherous crossings flounder. A 16-year-old boy believed to be the sole survivor of the disaster told rescuers at least five children and several pregnant women were among those who…

Daily World News Digest, 29 March 2017

Colombia’s Congress approves transitional justice system

Colombia Reports carries an article today on the approval granted yesterday by Colombia’s congress for the transitional justice system that will try war crimes committed during the country’s 53-year conflict. The transitional justice system, consisting of a Transitional Justice Tribunal, a Truth Commission and a Missing Persons Unit, is a key part of the peace deal between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), ratified by the Colombian Congress at the end of November last year. Under the peace agreement, ICMP is tasked with providing recommendations on establishing the Search Unit to account for those who have gone missing as a result of the conflict.

Call for release of detainees in South Sudan

Anadolu Agency reported yesterday that in an open letter sent on Tuesday to South Sudan President Salva Kiir, Amnesty International Secretary-General Salil Shetty called for the release…

Daily World News Digest, 28 March 2017

Another mass grave located in Iraq

Iraqi News reported yesterday that a human rights group in Diyala Governate in eastern Iraq says it has located a mass grave containing remains of victims killed by Da’esh. The head of the rights group said that Peshmerga forces recently detained a Da’esh fighter who revealed the existence of a mass grave in Saadiya, 60 KM northeast of Baquba, the provincial capital. The report says the grave will be excavated over the coming few weeks after required approval has been obtained.

Court in Spain to try Syrian officials for torture, murder of Spanish national

Jurist reported yesterday that Spain’s top court agreed on Monday to investigate claims by a Spanish woman who alleges her brother was tortured and murdered in 2013 by government security forces in Syria. Spanish High Court Judge Eloy Velasco has asked Syrian authorities to appoint legal representation in Spain for the…

Daily World News Digest, 27 March 2017

Egypt convicts 56 over migrant boat sinking that killed 200

The BBC reported yesterday that an Egyptian court has sentenced 56 people to prison over the capsizing of a migrant boat that killed more than 200 people in September. They were given sentences of up to 14 years; charges included murder, manslaughter and negligence. The boat was bound for Italy when it sank eight miles off the Egyptian port city of Rosetta. Some 450 migrants were estimated to have been crowded aboard, including around 100 trapped in its hold. A total of 57 people were charged, but one woman was acquitted. The lesser charges included not using sufficient rescue equipment, endangering lives, receiving money from the victims, hiding suspects from authorities, and using a vessel without a license.

Greece says unable to accept refugees under Dublin Regulation

RussiaToday carried an article yesterday citing the Greek Minister of Immigration Policy…

Daily World News Digest, 24 March 2017

More than 200 migrants feared drowned in Mediterranean

The BBC reported yesterday that Proactiva Open Arms, the Spanish NGO, has recovered five bodies floating near two capsized boats, which can each hold more than 100 people. The five men pulled from the Mediterranean were young men who appeared to have drowned. A spokesman for Italy’s coast guard, which co-ordinates rescues, confirmed the five deaths, but said they could not confirm the estimates of deaths given by Proactiva. The Italian coast guard said they had co-ordinated more than 40 rescue operations in the last few days. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) says more than 20,000 migrants have arrived in Italy so far this year – and some 559 people are estimated to have died or gone missing en route.

Chile sentences 33 Pinochet-era agents for disappearances

Telesur, the Venezuela-based Latin American news portal, reported yesterday that the Supreme Court in Chile…

Daily World News Digest, 23 March 2017

Sri Lanka should implement its UN commitments 

Human Rights Watch released an statement yesterday acknowledging the Sri Lankan government’s engagement with the international community, including with the UN’s special procedures, over the last two years. However, it expressed concern over the slow pace of implementing Human Rights Council resolution 30/1, which involves the establishment of transitional justice mechanisms. The promised office on enforced disappearances has yet to be established, although enabling legislation was passed in June 2016. Human Rights Watch urged the government to develop a timetable for implementing all the elements in the resolution.

More mass graves found in Democratic Republic of Congo

The Daily Nation, from Kenya, carries an AFP story today reporting that investigators have found 10 mass graves in the Kasai region of central Democratic Republic of Congo. The remote region has been plagued by violence since mid-August when government forces killed a tribal chief and militia…

Daily World News Digest, 22 March 2017

Iraqi authorities urged to protect mass grave

Human Rights Watch released a statement yesterday saying that he Iraqi authorities must make it a priority to protect a mass grave of Da’esh victims that has been discovered at the Khafsa sinkhole about eight kilometers south of western Mosul. Local residents said that Da’esh laid improvised landmines at the site. Human Rights watch said Iraqi authorities should make it a priority to mark and fence the site until it can be demined. Iraqi forces and medical experts from Baghdad have been exhuming bodies there. Fawaz Abdulameer of the International Committee for Missing Persons said “These excavations are unacceptable. They must be carried out by trained teams with sufficient experience, because they are dealing with human remains at a crime scene.” This is the second report of  ad hoc and unprofessional exhumations taking place without authorization.

Democratic Republic of Congo families demand exhumation…

Sustaining the Effort to Account For Missing Persons in Croatia and the Region

The Hague, 21 March 2017: Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Kosovo must take coordinated action to resolve cases of unidentified human remains from the conflict in former Yugoslavia, and systematically address the issue of mis-identifications that occurred prior to the use of DNA testing, Matthew Holliday, the Head of ICMP’s Western Balkans program said in Brussels today.

Mr. Holliday was speaking at a conference held at the European Parliament to review efforts to account for missing persons from the conflict in Croatia.

More than 6,000 persons went missing during the conflict in Croatia (1991-1995), of whom around 2,000 are still missing. ICMP has helped to identify more than 600 complex missing persons cases from the Croatia conflict through a joint project with the Croatian Directorate of Detained and Missing. An estimated 12,000 persons are still missing in the Western Balkans as a whole.


Daily World News Digest, 21 March 2017

More than 400 migrants rescued off the coast of Libya

The Japan Times carries an AFP-JIJI story today reporting that during the last two days 420 migrants have been rescued off the coast of Libya. Three were found dead and 30 have been reported missing. A senior Libyan official said 205 Africans including eight women and a child were rescued early Monday off the coast of Tajura, 30 km east of Tripoli. The migrants “were on two inflatable dinghies that had started to take on water,” he said. “The smugglers pushed two dinghies crammed with people out to sea before removing their engines and abandoning them to their fate.”

Lawyers in Zimbabwe willing to engage government on human rights

NewsDay Zimbabwe reports today that Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) has expressed its willingness to engage the government on recommendations of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR). At the same…