Colombia missing persons search plan
In an interview with El Tiempo, Andreas Forer, the Head of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) Colombia Program, speaks about the National Search Plan, being prepared which ICMP support, and the technical challenges related to the recovery of bodies in rivers and lakes and the identification of badly burned human remains, as well as “database management, and the preservation, custody, and memorialization of remains” (Original article in Spanish).
Ghana: Reburial of Gambian massacre victims
According to Ghana Web, families of 44 victims of a 2005 massacre in the Gambia have expressed doubts regarding the identity of human remains reburied at the Osu Cemetery in Ghana. Martin Kyere, a survivor and spokesperson for the victims’ families based his doubts on the fact that no DNA testing was conducted on the remains that were exhumed from a mass grave in the Gambia in 2009.
Baghdad, 25 February 2020: A photo exhibition organized by the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) and Iraqi institutions tasked with finding missing persons, including the Martyrs’ Foundation and the Ministry of Health was inaugurated this week. The exhibition, which is supported through ICMP’s EU –funded Iraq program, highlights the magnitude of the missing persons issue in Iraq and showcases the Iraqi National Team’s intensive work to address it.
The exhibition, titled “Missing Persons Can Be Accounted For: A Strong Partnership between ICMP and the Iraqi National Team”, also illustrates how ICMP is helping its partners in Iraq to build a sustainable and effective missing persons process.
“The photos in this joint exhibition tell a story of hope. They show that with cooperation from all involved, it is possible to find the missing and to help the families of the missing,” said Rasa Ostrauskaite, the Head of ICMP’s Iraq Program.
Zimbabwe: exhumations and reburials of 1980s victims
Pindula Zimbabwe reports on the prospects for the exhumation and reburial of victims of the government’s 1980s “Gukurahuni” campaign against “dissidents” in Matebeleland. President Emmerson Mnangagwa is scheduled to meet with Matabeleland leaders and civil society groups, including the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission, to build consensus on steps forward.
Colombia: survivors speak up
Personnel from Colombia’s Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) have discovered human remains of 54 victims in the village of Dabeiba in the Northwest Colombia, according to Colombia Reports. The discovery comes in the context of a nationwide effort to enable survivors to speak up about forced disappearances and mass graves.
Kenya: unidentified bodies to be buried
Mpasho Kenya reports on the burial of 26 unidentified bodies in Kiambu County, near Nairobi, where mortuary capacity is limited. According to the law, hospitals may dispose of unclaimed human remains 21 days after…
Mass graves in Northeast Syria
The Hill reports on the urgent need to account for missing victims of Da’esh in Northeast Syria, where it says “post-ISIS recovery efforts are stalling” in an increasingly complex military and political situation. “Many of the kidnapped may have ended up in one of the over 20 mass graves uncovered so far in areas previously under ISIS control,” it says.
Rohingya refugees trafficked from Bangladesh
Anadolu reports that authorities in Bangladesh have started erecting barbed-wire fences around Rohingya refugee camps to rein in illegal trafficking of vulnerable refugees. “In recent months incidents of risky trafficking of Rohingya to Malaysia have significantly increased through the Bay of Bengal,’ the report says, adding that rights groups have characterized the fencing and other measures as violations of refugees’ rights.
Boat carrying 91 migrants missing in Mediterranean
A rubber dinghy carrying 91 migrants and refugees that set out from Libya has…
Lawyer recognized for documenting arbitrary arrest in Yemen
France 24 reports that Huda Al-Sarari, a lawyer who exposed a network of secret prisons in war-ravaged Yemen, where thousands of men and boys were arbitrarily held and tortured, has been named as the recipient of the prestigious human rights prize, the Martin Ennals Award.
Iraq: mass grave of Da’esh victims
Rudaw news agency reports on a sinkhole found in Nineveh in northern Iraq that is believed to contain almost 1,000 bodies. “The pit contains at least 1,000 bodies. They had even dumped victims into the mass grave while they were still alive,” a local official said.
Pattern of enforced disappearances in South Sudan
Human Rights Watch has called for the urgent reform of South Sudan’s National Security Service. It says the country’s Human Rights Commission and others have documented “a pattern of arbitrary arrests and detentions, torture, and enforced disappearances”, by…
Nepal: Commission on Enforced Disappearance resumes work
The MyRepublica news portal from Nepal reports that the country’s Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons (CIEDP) has resumed work, following a disruption caused by the retirement of previous commissioners in April 2019. A CIEDP spokesperson said the new Commissioners “will revisit files” that have already been prepared as well as initiating new investigations. He said an additional “DNA testing committee” has been formed.
Colombia: missing children
According to LAFM, Colombia’s Unit for the Search of Persons reported as Disappeared (UBPD) says it has received 163 requests to search for children and adolescents who were allegedly recruited into the internal armed conflict in different regions of the country (Original article in Spanish).
Colombia: human remains found
Elespectador reports on the discovery of unidentified human remains at a mass grave in Antioquia in northwestern Colombia, bringing the total number of victims found…
Enforced disappearances in the MENA region
Amnesty International’s latest report on human rights in the Middle East and North Africa has found, among other things, “widespread patterns of violations by security forces in the context of the criminal justice system, including torture and other ill-treatment and enforced disappearances, most notably in Egypt, Iran, Libya, Saudi Arabia and Syria.”
Syria: mass grave found east of Damascus
The Syrian government says a mass grave containing around 70 sets of human remains has been found in Duma, east of Damascus, in an area that was controlled by armed anti-regime groups until April 2018, ANSA Med reports. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the bodies found are those of civilians and government soldiers.
Malta: migrant rescue
The Times of Malta reports on operations by the Maltese navy in a situation characterized by large numbers of unseaworthy migrant vessels. Following the rescue of…
Burundi: mass graves
Burundi’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission says more than 6,000 sets of human remains have been found in six mass graves in the central province of Karusi, the largest finding since the government launched a nationwide excavation in January, Reuters reports. Clothing and personal belongings have been used to identify some victims.
Malaysia: inquiry on missing couple begins
The Sun newspaper from Malaysia reports that more than three years after the disappearance of Joshua and Ruth Hilmy a public inquiry is set to begin in Kuala Lumpur under the auspices of the country’s Human Rights Commission. The inquiry will seek to determine if the couple were victims of enforced disappearance and if the police investigation has been adequate. In two similar recent cases, the HRC concluded that police were responsible for the disappearances.
Sri Lanka: threats to families of the disappeared
Sri Lankan security officials “have intensified surveillance and threats…
Families of the missing in the Western Balkans
The Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN) has launched a campaign to tell the stories of families who are still waiting to discover the fate of loved ones who went missing during the violent breakup of former Yugoslavia. Through the efforts of the ICMP and other organizations, more than 70 percent of the 40,000 missing have been accounted for, but families still struggle to access their right to truth, justice and reparation.
Ukraine: Steps to take for peace
An opinion piece in the EU Observer examines prospects for peace in Ukraine. The authors call for the International Commission on Missing Persons and the ICRC to be granted “full access and cooperation by local and national authorities in their essential work”.
Montenegro and BIH address missing persons issue
The Anadolu Agency (AA) reports on steps being taken by Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro to…
Malaysia: missing pastor’s wife to sue police
Free Malaysia Today reports that Susanna Liew is to take legal action against the authorities in Malaysia in connection with the disappearance, on 13 February 2017, of her husband, Pastor Raymond Koh. This follows a suit filed four months ago by Norhayati Mohd Ariffin, the wife of activist Amri Che Mat, who has been missing since December 2016. Both men have been declared victims of enforced disappearance by the Malaysian Human Rights Commission, which says they were abducted by police.
Mexico: missing persons search commission in Sonora
Arizona Public Media reports that the Mexican state of Sonora has established a commission to supervise the search for missing persons. Data released by the National Search Commission shows that the state has more than 2,000 missing or disappeared people. Ninety clandestine graves with more than 140 bodies were found in Sonora in 2019, the fourth-highest…