The Hague, 14 March 2019: More than half of those surveyed during an EU Consultation on Syria said the issue of missing persons, including victims of enforced disappearance and detainees, is the most important topic in the field of justice and cohesion, Kathryne Bomberger, Director-General of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP), told participants at a major conference on Syria convened by the European Union in Brussels this week.
Ms Bomberger was speaking on a panel on Justice and Social Cohesion at the European Parliament. She noted that the Consultation undertaken by the EU ahead of the conference, had concluded, among other things, that communities in Syria must be made aware of their legal rights and the legal tools they can use to defend their interests, and that accountability must be kept on the political agenda.
“There are upwards of 80,000 persons missing in the Syrian context, including those missing…
Syrian women, agents for change
The European Union External Action Service has published a series of interviews with Syrian women who have been thrust into the role of activists as a result of the conflict, including women who are working with the International Commission on Missing Persons to secure truth, justice and reparations following the disappearance of a loved one. http://bit.ly/2u8XVqW
Guatemala urged not to grant amnesty for genocide
Human Rights Watch has urged the Guatemalan Congress to comply with a 12 March 2019 Inter-American Court order to suspend consideration of legislation that would provide amnesty for genocide and other past atrocities. HRW says the proposed legislation would free dozens of military officials convicted of grave abuses and prohibit all future prosecutions of human rights crimes committed during the country’s 36-year internal armed conflict, which ended in 1996. http://bit.ly/2u8YWzg
Iraq: courts improve Da’esh trial procedures
Prosecutions of Da’esh suspects in Iraq are…
Arbitrary arrests and extrajudicial killings in Syria
The Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria says scores of civilians are being killed in Idlib and western Aleppo, Voice of America reports. The commission says arbitrary arrests, detentions and executions continue in government-controlled areas, and armed groups and terrorist organizations unlawfully detain or kidnap civilians in Idlib and Afrin for expressing political dissent or for ransom. http://bit.ly/2O1zZ1Y
Families approve burial of nine Srebrenica genocide victims
The mortal remains of at least nine victims of the Srebrenica genocide have been identified, and the families have approved burial on 11 July, the N1 TV station reports, citing the Missing Persons Institute of Bosnia and Herzegovina. It notes that this year’s collective funeral of the Srebrenica massacre victims might be numerically the smallest till now since no new mass graves have been discovered in recent years. http://bit.ly/2UzMBzT
UN: unknown number of missing after DRC massacre
Syrian detainees “a priority at Brussels conference”
The EU Observer publishes an article today by Mariam al-Hallak, co-founder of the Caesar Families Association, a civil society group working on the issue of Syrian detainees. The article urges participants at the EU-sponsored conference on Syria being held in Brussels this week to put pressure on the Damascus regime to free detainees, and “to make the detention issue the number one priority on their agenda.” https://bit.ly/2NVQBIl
Anniversary of Thai disappearance
Human Rights Watch has published an article on the 15th anniversary of the disappearance of Thai human rights lawyer Somchai Neelapaijit. Somchai was abducted on 12 March 2004 and later murdered, but his body has never been found. The article argues that investigations have been hampered by the fact that Thailand’s penal code does not recognize enforced disappearance as a criminal offense. https://bit.ly/2Hx4YBX
Mass graves in eastern Iraq
KirkukNow reports that since the rise…
Two mass graves discovered in Iraq
Iraqi authorities have uncovered two mass graves in Salahuddin Province, north of Baghdad, containing the remains of victims believed to have been executed by Da’esh and al-Qaeda, Kurdistan 24 reports. http://bit.ly/2Jjb1N1
Sri Lanka: bodies found in Mannar mass grave date back to the 1400s
Human remains found in Sri Lanka’s largest mass grave, in the town of Mannar in the north of the country, date back some 500 years, based on 25 samples sent to a laboratory in the US, AsiaNews.it reports. It had been thought likely that the remains might be those of victims of Sri Lanka’s civil war, which ended in 2009. http://bit.ly/2NXIlrc
Nepal: victims’ representatives to participate in transitional justice
Nepalese Justice Minister Bhanu Bhakta Dhakal says the country’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission and Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons will be restructured to facilitate representation of conflict victims, The Himalayan Times…
UK: rise in the number of missing
Vice News reports on the rising number of missing persons cases in the United Kingdom, where 180,000 people are reported missing every year. “Someone goes missing every 90 seconds, according to figures compiled by the charity Missing People. One in 200 children will go missing, with that number standing at one in 500 for adults. In London alone, the number of reported missing person cases has increased by 77 percent since 2010.” https://bit.ly/2EWHMew
Argentina: search for the disappeared continues
History.com reports on the decades-long campaign of the Mothers and Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo, who have gathered every Thursday in Buenos Aires to bring attention to the 30,000 victims of enforced disappearance during Argentina’s “Dirty War”. Since 1983, nearly 900 former members of the junta have been tried and convicted of crimes. However, the mothers and grandmothers say they will keep fighting for…
Sarajevo, 7 March 2019: In an interview published today by Buka.com, a news portal in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kathryne Bomberger, the Director-General of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP), stressed that “accounting for the missing is an investment in peace”, and she highlighted the paramount importance of regional cooperation.
“Bringing governments together to address common challenges, and working with them to arrive at solutions together is important for trust building,” Ms Bomberger said. She said that while more than 70 percent of the missing have been accounted for, there are still 7,000 missing in Bosnia and Herzegovina and 12,000 missing across the region, so “the effort to account for the missing must be sustained”.
Ms Bomberger noted that in London in June 2018, Western Balkan heads of government signed a Joint Declaration renewing their commitment to cooperate in the effort to account for those who are still missing. She described…
Accounting for missing is an investment in peace
In an interview for Buka.com, a news portal in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kathryne Bomberger, the Director-General of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) stressed that “accounting for the missing is an investment in peace” and highlighted the paramount importance of regional cooperation. “Bringing governments together to address common challenges and working with them to arrive at solutions together is important for trust building.” (Interview can be accessed in Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian at http://bit.ly/2tTq0m0 and in English at http://tr.im/niKY8 )
Spain: heavy rain uncovers remains of Franco’s regime victims
The Daily Telegraph reports that a Madrid cemetery has been accused of lying about cremating the bodies of 3,000 civilians executed under the regime of Francisco Franco after heavy rain exposed a mass grave. The new finding contradicts a claim by a municipal agency that said the ossuary containing the remains of those killed during…
The Hague, 6 March 2018: Regional cooperation and a sustained commitment by governments to move forward with their respective missing persons strategies are key to finding those who are still missing from the conflict in the former Yugoslavia, Kathryne Bomberger, the Director-General of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP), wrote in an article that appeared in Balkan Insight today.
Ms Bomberger stressed that while 28,000 people have been accounted for, 12,000 are still missing, and she commended the progress that is being made to develop and implement multilateral cooperation, highlighting as “a significant step” the Joint Declaration signed in London in June 2018 by heads of government from the region, renewing their commitment to cooperate in the effort to account for those who are still missing.
The Joint Declaration was followed by the signing of a Framework Plan last November, at ICMP headquarters in The Hague, by representatives of Bosnia…
Regional cooperation is the key to finding the wartime missing
Regional cooperation and a sustained commitment by governments to move forward with their respective missing persons strategies are key to finding those who are still missing from the conflict in the former Yugoslavia, the Director-General of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP), wrote in an article that appeared in Balkan Insight today. http://bit.ly/2HkyYRd
Malaysia opens new probe into mass graves
Malaysia’s new government has reopened an investigation into mass graves of Rohingya and Bangladeshi trafficking victims discovered in the jungle along the Thai border in 2015, Radio Free Asia reports. In late May 2015, Malaysian police disclosed that they had unearthed 106 sets of human remains from 139 graves at abandoned human-smuggling camps near Wang Kelian. Officials arrested 12 police along with several foreign nationals soon after the discovery. http://bit.ly/2IUlP3C
Sri Lanka: forensic investigation related to largest mass grave