Auschwitz: memorializing victims buried in mass graves
On the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, TIME Magazine carries an essay examining the memorialization of victims. “For families whose members have survived genocide or other forms of mass murder, remembrance is private and visceral. They often have no body to bury or cremate,” the author writes, before describing a family tragedy and “a small act of ingenious commemoration”.
Missing Indigenous women and girls in the US
The Detroit Lake Tribune news portal carries a comprehensive review of efforts by state governments in the US to address the issue of missing Indigenous women and girls. A wave of Indigenous elected officials entering state and federal office has shone a spotlight on the issue, though indigenous representation in legislatures remains disproportionately small, the article says.
Cambodia: the search for truth, 40 years on
ABC News reports from Cambodia on a survivor’s search…
Identifying deceased migrants in Texas
The Dallas Morning News reports on efforts to identify migrants from Central and South America who have died trying to enter the United States. The International Organization for Migration says 405 migrants died on the US side of the border in 2019, with 91 migration-related deaths reported on the Mexican side. Since 2014, at least 1,750 migrants have died in the border region, half in Texas, “surpassing Arizona, whose blistering terrain was once the leading death trap”.
Thailand: “impunity for enforced disappearance”
AFP reports that a Thai park official implicated in the alleged killing of an environmental activist will not face prosecution for murder due to “insufficient evidence” – a move condemned by rights groups decrying impunity for enforced disappearances. Ethnic Karen leader Por Cha Lee Rakcharoen vanished in April 2014 while he was working on a lawsuit accusing officials of destroying homes of ethnic…
Sri Lanka: government promises “proper investigations” into disappearances
Sri Lanka’s new government, which caused considerable controversy when it announced that it would classify as deceased thousands of people missing from the conflict that ended in 2009, says death certificates will be issued only after proper investigations have been carried out, France 24 reports. Under current law, families cannot access property deeds, bank accounts or inheritances left by missing relatives unless they can conclusively prove they are dead – an often impossible task.
Nepal: transitional justice process resumes
The Himalayan Times reports that newly appointed members of Nepal’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission and Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons have been sworn in. Nepal’s transitional justice system, established as part of the peace agreement that ended a decade-long conflict in 2006, has been stalled due to arguments over the mandate and effectiveness of the two commissions. Justice Minister Bhanu…
Myanmar ordered to prevent further attacks on Rohingya
The Guardian reports on the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruling, ordering the government of Myanmar to prevent genocidal violence against the country’s Rohingya minority and preserve evidence of past attacks. The ICJ ordered Myanmar to take emergency, “provisional” measures in line with requirements of the 1948 genocide convention. The Myanmar military is accused of carrying out a campaign of enforced disappearances, torture and extrajudicial executions against civilians in the country’s western Rakhine State.
Kosovo: massacre survivors await justice
Balkan Insight reports from Kosovo, where witnesses of massacres perpetrated during the 1998-99 conflict have died without ever being called to testify in court. David Tolbert, director of the International Center for Transitional Justice, said “it is worth overturning all the stones” since, in the absence of eyewitnesses, orders recorded in writing or captured by intercepts “could be strong evidence to support a prosecution”….
Egypt: minister ordered to reveal whereabouts of missing ex-MP
An Egyptian court has ordered the country’s interior minister to reveal the whereabouts of a missing former parliamentarian believed to be in state custody, AFP reports. Mostafa al-Naggar, a key figure in the 2011 revolution, was reported missing in September 2018.
Extrajudicial killings in Bangladesh
Human Rights Watch reports that in Bangladesh, government critics “fear they may be next in line to be killed or forcibly disappeared by security forces”. It says there were more than 300 extrajudicial executions in 2019 “and not one member of the security forces was held accountable”.
Venezuela: “members of parliament disappearing”
Reuters reports on the detention of Venezuelan opposition legislator Gilber Caro since 20 December, when the Special Action Force (FAES) took him into custody. His lawyer argues that this was illegal, as Caro is protected by parliamentary immunity. On Tuesday, the Popular Will party said…
Sri Lanka to classify conflict missing persons as deceased
Sri Lanka President Gotabaya Rajapaksa says tens of thousands of people missing from the country’s civil war, which ended in 2009, will be formally declared dead, and death certificates will be issued, the Associated Press reports. An Office on Missing Persons, established in 2015, has been investigating 23,586 cases, including those of 5,000 members of the security forces. It is unclear how the government reached the conclusion that all missing persons are dead.
Missing Indigenous women in the US
The New York Times carries a report on the issue of missing Indigenous women in the United States. Last year, 5,590 Indigenous women were reported missing to the FBI’s National Crime Information Center, but advocates say the staggeringly high rates of violence suffered by Indigenous people are still not fully reflected in official accounting.
Panama begins exhuming a mass grave from 1989
Missing Persons Institute urges BIH authorities to support families
Representatives of the Advisory Board of the Missing Persons Institute (MPI) of Bosnia and Herzegovina have urged the BIH authorities to implement the missing persons law, which provides for support to families of the missing, the Sarajevo Times reports. The Advisory Board members were speaking during a visit to the Headquarters of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) in The Hague, where they were briefed on ICMP’s continuing support for BIH, including DNA-based identifications, and the pioneering use of Massively Parallel Sequencing (MPS), which can significantly increase the possibility of making identifications.
Two victims of the Srebrenica Genocide identified
Two victims of the Srebrenica Genocide whose remains were exhumed from the Liplje and Kamenica mass graves in Zvornik have been identified using DNA analysis, the Sarajevo Times reports. The paper notes that the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP)…
South Dakota: “clearing house” for missing persons
Kelo reports that the Senate Judiciary Committee has passed a measure that would establish a missing persons clearinghouse. The bill will help to carry out the mission set by last’s year’s bill on missing and murdered indigenous persons and will also allow neighboring states to share more information with the public using a website.
Mass grave found in Panama
The BBC reports that the bodies of seven people have been found in a mass grave in an indigenous area of Panama controlled by a religious sect. The deceased include a pregnant woman and five of her children. A further 15 people were freed from alleged captivity.
UN: “staggering number” of extrajudicial killings in Colombia
The UN human rights office, OHCHR, has expressed concern over the “staggering number” of human rights activists killed in Colombia last year, UN News reports. Rights defenders advocating on behalf…
ICMP assists with identification of 1989 Central Texas shooting victim
Work by the International Commission on Missing Persons in cooperation with the DNA Doe Project and the Williamson County Texas Sheriff’s Office has enabled the identification of a woman who was found shot to death in September 1989 in Williamson County, Texas, KWTX reports. ICMP used its specialized methods for DNA extraction of highly degraded samples, and recovered enough DNA for genetic genealogy analysis to be conducted. A tentative identification of Sue Ann Huskey was made in December and was confirmed after a member of Huskey’s family provided a DNA sample.
Enforced disappearance in Bangladesh
The Daily Star from Bangladesh covers the latest Human Rights Watch report on the country, which finds that in 2019, although the government denied involvement in enforced disappearances, extrajudicial killings, torture and other violations, “security forces persisted with a long-standing pattern of covering up…
Burundi: More than 4,000 mass graves uncovered
More than 4,000 mass graves have been found in Burundi following an investigation by the country’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission into conflicts since independence in 1962, the BBC reports. The commission, set up in 2018 to shed light on ethnic tensions, says it has identified 142,505 victims. According to Commission Chairperson many more mass graves are yet to be found because people who know about them are afraid to talk or are traumatized.
Nearly 1,000 migrants “returned to Libya” this year
Aljazeera reports that almost 1,000 refugees and migrants have been intercepted at sea and returned to war-ravaged Libya already this year, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM). IOM said most of the refugees and migrants were “disembarked in Tripoli and all were taken to detention centers”. About 4,500 people are currently held in “official” detention centers across Libya. Thousands more…