Daily World News Digest, 1 October 2015

UN Rights Commissioner tells Sri Lanka to disband Missing Persons Commission

The New Indian Express reported on 30 September that UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein has recommended that the Sri Lankan Commission for Cases of Forced Disappearances should be disbanded because its credibility has been seriously questioned by the families of the victims and other observers. In his report to the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva on Wednesday, Zeid said that the task assigned to the Commission should be transferred to a “credible and independent institution established in consultation with the families of the disappeared.” Zied reiterated his call for an “ad hoc hybrid special court” to investigate and try war crimes with the involvement of foreign judges and other foreign legal personnel. http://bit.ly/1JDnNsI

South Sudanese army abduct 10 girls in Unity state, rebels claim

The Sudan Tribune reported today that a South Sudanese armed opposition official on Wednesday accused pro-government forces of allegedly abducting 10 girls after military offensives in the oil-rich Unity state. Six of the allegedly kidnapped girls were said to be 14 years, while the rest were aged 16 to 17. A government official denied the claim. A recent report in The Guardian newspaper gave horrific details of testimonies from rape victims in Unity state. According to the UN Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism, there were more reports of killings, abductions and sexual violence against children between April and June in southern Unity state than in all reports received from the entire country in the preceding 15 months combined. http://bit.ly/1VrI4Z5

Indonesian government seeking the right way to settle human rights cases

The Indonesian Antara News news agency reported on 30 September that the government is seeking “the right way” to settle past cases of human rights violations by gathering input from human rights stakeholders, according to Justice and Human Rights Minister Yasona Laoly. He minister said discussions are underway with Komnas Ham (the National Commission on Human Rights) and Kontras (the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence). The minister said human rights cases that have to be settled would not be limited to those related the 1965 coup attempt but also those related to the Trisakti incident, when soldiers opened fire on unarmed protestors, the Semanggi shootings, and forced disappearances. Coordinating Minister for Political, Security and Legal Affairs Luhut Pandjaitan said the government is still seeking the right way to deal with these issues. http://bit.ly/1L4AOAZ

Japan to work with ASEAN members in tackling cross-border crimes

The Malaysian Digest carried a story on 30 September saying that Japan will work in coordination with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member countries towards a comprehensive resolution of outstanding issues including cross-border abductions. Speaking to reporters at the 10th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Transnational Crime, Minister of State and Chair of Japan’s Public Safety Commission Eriko Yamatani said she had made a strong statement on the abduction (of Japanese nationals) by North Korean agencies. North Korea admitted in 2002 that it had dispatched agents to kidnap 13 Japanese in the 1970s and 1980s who were tasked with training spies in Japanese language and customs, according to media reports. Five of the abductees were allowed to return to Japan but Pyongyang has insisted, without producing solid evidence, that the eight others are dead. Japanese authorities have documented an additional 880 cases of missing persons who may also have been abducted by North Korea, some of whom were snatched after 2000. http://bit.ly/1MH0Zgk

Boko Haram still a deadly threat

Amnesty International carried a story on 30 September saying that despite advances by the military, attacks by Boko Haram in Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger have claimed the lives of at least 1,600 people since the start of June, bringing the death toll to at least 3,500 civilians in 2015 alone. Amnesty International is also calling for urgent and thorough investigations of serious human rights violations committed by their security forces. Following the publication of an Amnesty International report on 3 June President Buhari of Nigeria pledged to investigate evidence that Nigerian military forces have committed serious human rights violations, war crimes and acts which may constitute crimes against humanity. To date, no investigation has begun. Similarly, in Cameroon crimes under international law and human rights violations have been committed by both Boko Haram and the state security forces. Such crimes have not been investigated effectively. Amnesty International calls on the government of Cameroon urgently to initiate investigations. http://bit.ly/1WyTkoZ

Items in Daily World News Digest are summaries of published reports relevant to the issue of missing persons, compiled by ICMP staff.  These items do not necessarily reflect the position of ICMP.