Daily World News Digest, 12 April 2017

50 cases of political killings brought to UN rights body

Inquirer, a news agency from the Philippines, reports today that a rights advocacy group has presented the UN Special Rapporteur with nearly 50 documented cases of political killings under the Duterte administration that took place despite the government’s peace negotiations with communist rebels. The killings took place from 1 July 2016 when President Duterte assumed office to the end of March. The victims were peasants, indigenous peoples and workers who were killed by military or military agents for defending people’s rights, the report says. http://bit.ly/2o3KcfK

Hundreds of asylum seekers missing after fire engulfs refugee camp in France

ABC News reported yesterday that about 600 people are missing after a fire led to the evacuation of a refugee camp in northern France, medical aid charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) says. The fire destroyed large parts of the Grande-Synthe camp near Dunkirk on Monday night following clashes there earlier in the evening. While 900 evacuees were moved to alternative lodging with associations or local gymnasiums, some 600 asylum seekers were unaccounted for. http://ab.co/2p4pIYA

“Spate of disappearances” in Malaysia

The BBC carries a story from Malaysia today about “an ‘unprecedented’ spate of disappearances, which has mystified the country and raised fears of religious vigilantism”. The February abduction of a Christian pastor, Raymond Koh, in Kuala Lumpur, filmed on CCTV, first appeared to be an isolated case of a possible kidnapping, but as the weeks wore on, more reports of missing Malaysians began to surface, the report says. Mr Koh’s apparent abduction took place in broad daylight and was witnessed by other drivers who later lodged police reports. Abductions are not unheard of in Malaysia, but kidnappers usually make contact quickly with victims’ families for a ransom. Two months on, however, Mr Koh’s family has not heard from him or his alleged abductors. They believe it is no ordinary kidnapping, and that “religious elements” took the pastor in an act of “vigilantism or terrorism”. http://bbc.in/2o3imjG

US must raise Russia’s “deplorable human rights record”

Amnesty International released a statement yesterday urging US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to raise the issue of Russia’s wide-ranging denial of human rights when he meets today with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. The Russian authorities are responsible for a staggering list of human rights violations, from the de facto ban on Jehovah’s Witnesses and the incarceration of peaceful protesters to the failure to effectively investigate the campaign of abduction, torture and killing of gay men in Chechnya,” Amnesty said. http://bit.ly/2p47I0P

Chechnya accused of detaining and torturing dozens of gay men

The Telegraph published an article yesterday saying that human rights groups believe dozens of gay men have been detained in a crackdown on homosexuality in Chechnya and have been imprisoned and tortured in illegal detention facilities. Human Rights Watch said “credible reports” have emerged of a number of individuals, including those suspected of being homosexuals, being detained unofficially in a former military base on the outskirts of Argun, some 19 kilometers outside of the capital Grozny. A series of reports seen by NGOs and independent Russian media outlets suggest a systematic campaign of intimidation, including arrests, beatings, and electrocutions as well as physical humiliation. http://bit.ly/2p2cA6r

Gambia’s Justice Minister joins protest against Jammeh-era atrocities

Africa News reported yesterday that Gambian Justice Minister Abubacar Tambedou joined scores of protesters who took to the streets on Monday demanding justice for atrocities committed during the reign of former President Yahya Jammeh. Victims of Jammeh-era atrocities have petitioned the Adama Barrow government to help them get closure on deaths and disappearances. The Barrow government has announced the formation of a reconciliation body to look into rights abuses and to recommend appropriate compensation for victims. http://bit.ly/2oWu8Bu

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.