The Hague, 29 September: In Tirana this morning, Prime Minister Edi Rama and Director-General of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) Kathryne Bomberger discussed next steps in establishing a program to assist the government of Albania to account for those who went missing during the Communist period (1945 to 1991) and other cases of missing persons.
The initial phase of the project will include efforts to identify missing persons recovered from the mass grave discovered near Mount Dajti northeast of Tirana in 2010 and from a site in Ballsh in southern Albania.
“ICMP welcomes the readiness of the Government of Albania to address the issue of missing persons in an effective way,” Kathryne Bomberger said today. Referring to the 2015 Law on Opening the Communist Files, she noted that “dealing with the issue of missing persons from the Communist period demonstrates a commitment…
Colombian general awaits transitional justice
A Colombian judge has ordered the release from custody of former army General Rito Alejo del Rio. Del Rio was sentenced to 25 years in prison in 2012 for his role in a 1997 murder carried out by paramilitary forces in the Uraba region in the northwest of the country. He is also being investigated for the assassinations of an anti-corruption presidential candidate in 1995 and a popular activist comedian in 1999. Del Rio is now awaiting trial before a transitional justice tribunal after vowing to tell the truth about the war crimes he allegedly committed and offer reparation to victims. http://bit.ly/2yxoOFc
Rwanda: post-election political crackdown
Rwandan authorities have arrested, forcibly disappeared, and threatened political opponents since the August 2017 presidential elections, Human Rights Watch said today. Those targeted include a would-be independent presidential candidate and her family members and supporters, and several leaders and members…
A leading forensic scientist and a representative of families of the missing have delivered DNA samples to ICMP’s laboratory system in September, inaugurating a program through which ICMP will help the authorities in Brazil in their efforts to identify the remains of people who were victims of enforced disappearance almost half a century ago.
A Man on a Mission to Help Families of the Missing
Dr. Samuel Ferreira, the Scientific Coordinator of Brazil’s Special Commission on Political Deaths and Disappearances, calculates that in the last two years he has travelled roughly 44,000 kilometers in order to collect blood samples from family members of people who went missing during the 1964-1985 military dictatorship.
Dr Ferreira is the scientific coordinator of the Perus Working Group (PWG) which was established three years ago to identify bodies that were interred in a clandestine mass grave in the Dom Bosco Cemetery in Perus, Sao Paulo….
El Salvador launches commission to find those missing from civil war
El Salvador on Wednesday launched the first commission to search for persons who went missing during its civil war, 25 years after the end of a conflict. The 1980-1992 war between the US-backed army and the Marxist guerrillas of the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN), now the ruling party, left 75,000 dead and 8,000 missing. Last year, the Supreme Court declared unconstitutional an amnesty law that has prevented since 1993 investigating and prosecuting those accused of war crimes in El Salvador. http://reut.rs/2yv9hpB
Extrajudicial killings in Bangladesh
An editorial in The Daily Star newspaper from Bangladesh addresses the issue of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances. It says that in the last 13 years, 1,900 people have been victims of extrajudicial killings in Bangladesh, of whom 800 died in police custody. “Law enforcement agencies have become so emboldened by the impunity…
Anniversary of Iguala disappearances in Mexico
Relatives and activists organized protests on Tuesday to mark the third anniversary of the disappearance of 43 trainee teachers in the state of Guerrero in southwest Mexico. The students’ parents have not stopped looking for their missing sons and seeking definitive answers to what happened. On the night of 26 September 2014, police with automatic weapons surrounded three buses that had been commandeered for a protest by students from the Ayotzinapa Teachers’ College. According to testimonies from survivors, the police started shooting at the unarmed students. Six people were shot dead – the youngest was 15 years old – and 43 were reported missing. An international team of forensic scientists contradicted the official report on the crime. http://nbcnews.to/2k0waPe
Colombia names judges on peace tribunal
The Selection Committee for Colombia’s new transitional justice system has announced the names of 51 magistrates who will investigate and try…
EU’s migration strategy challenged
In an editorial published on Monday, the New York Times questions the European Union’s strategy for preventing Mediterranean migration by strengthening Libya’s coast guard, striking deals with tribesmen who control Libya’s southern border, persuading clan-based militias to prevent boats from leaving Libya and promising Libyan mayors sources of revenue to replace profits stemming from trafficking. As a result, “the Top of FormBottom of Formflow of migrants crossing the Mediterranean was 85 percent less last month than in the previous August,” but the NYT warns “This is a dangerous gambit. It risks funneling new money for arms to rival factions in Libya. And it puts Italy, and Europe, in the role of hiring as gatekeepers the very people who profit from extorting, starving, selling into slavery, torturing and raping migrants.” http://nyti.ms/2fnmRDH
General accused of war crimes in Libya courted by west
Ex-CIA asset Khalifa Haftar ordered soldiers…
Bosnia and Herzegovina has done more than any other country to find and identify persons missing as a result of conflict. Of the 30,000 persons who were missing in 1995, more than 23,000 have been found – a ratio that has not been equaled anywhere in the world.
This unprecedented achievement has been possible through the support and cooperation of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP). ICMP was established in 1996 initially to work with the countries of the former Yugoslavia to locate and identify persons missing from the conflicts of the 1990s. ICMP assisted by bringing all the stakeholders from the region together – government authorities, judicial bodies and technical experts, international organizations, families of the missing and others – to forge a common and effective strategy. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, these stakeholders have worked with the BIH Missing Persons Institute, which, for more than a decade has…
Dutch government challenges ruling on Srebrenica deaths
The Dutch government has asked the Supreme Court to overturn a ruling finding it partially liable for the deaths of around 300 Bosniaks from Srebrenica in eastern Bosnia who were killed after being expelled from a Dutch UN peacekeepers’ base in July 1995. Lawyers representing the families of some of the victims say they will appeal to the Dutch Supreme Court, asking it to find the Netherlands liable for many more deaths. The ruling does not relate to the deaths of the rest of around 8,000 Bosniaks from Srebrenica who were killed by Bosnian Serb forces in July 1995 – a crime classified as genocide by international court decisions. http://bit.ly/2xUV7BU
Pakistan activists demand new law on enforced disappearances
Rights organizations in Pakistan have launched a nationwide campaign for the release of Punhal Sariyo, a prominent human rights activist, and are demanding the recovery of…
UN to investigate Da’esh crimes
The UN Security Council has asked Secretary-General António Guterres to establish an independent investigative team to support domestic efforts to hold Da’esh accountable for its actions in Iraq. By the terms of resolution 2379 (2017), adopted unanimously on Thursday morning, the team would collect, preserve, and store evidence of acts that may amount to war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide committed by the terrorist group in Iraq. More than 3,000 Yezidi women and girls are still held captive by Da’esh forces in Iraq. http://bit.ly/2xzfCTv
Amnesty: UN resolution “threatens to entrench impunity”
The UN resolution on investigating Da’esh crimes “falls short of what is needed to stamp out a dangerous culture of impunity and could fuel further abuses,” Amnesty International said in a statement issued on Thursday. “The resolution crucially fails to include any provisions to ensure accountability for crimes committed by Iraqi forces and…
Highlighting the fate of Syria’s disappeared
Earlier this month, Amnesty International organized a weeklong exhibition in Beirut to highlight the issue of Syria’s missing and disappeared. The exhibition, titled “Tens of Thousands”, displayed poems written by detainees and portraits of prisoners by Syrian artist Azza Abou Rebieh. The Syrian Network for Human Rights reports that 85,036 persons were forcibly disappeared by parties to the conflict in Syria between March 2011 and August 2017. http://bit.ly/2xg6IKT
Bosnia and Herzegovina: excavations at newly discovered mass grave continue
Authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina are continuing the process of forensic analysis after bodies were removed form a mass grave in the center of the country, at a site where more than 200 civilians were executed in August 1992. Staff from the International Commission on Missing Persons, and government officials and representatives of the State Prosecutor’s Office have attended the exhumations. http://nws.mx/2xkezVp
End “the shameful silence…