Daily World News Digest, 12 March 2015

Reports of UN Srebrenica Declaration Divide Bosnia

BalkanInsight reported on 11 March that representatives of different communities in Bosnia and Herzegovina have taken opposing stances on a reported plan to mark the 20th anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre by declaring 11 July an annual remembrance day for more than 7,000 men and boys killed by Bosnian Serb forces in 1995. Bosnian media report a draft UN General Assembly resolution as calling for the international day of remembrance to be marked with “special observances and activities in memory of victims of the Srebrenica genocide.” The Dutch embassy in Sarajevo, although noting that the Netherlands was not the UN member that had initiated the resolution, expressed regret that some politicians in Bosnia have immediately reacted to the possibility of a UN resolution with negative comments, “including genocide denial and divisive rhetoric,” adding that “The facts of the genocide in Srebrenica have been legally established by the ICTY.” The President of the Mothers of Srebrenica association said UN peacekeepers in Srebrenica had allowed the genocide to take place and therefore “This is the minimum they owe us for allowing the mothers to suffer so… This is declaratory for them, but for us it is vital, to warn future generations.” An MP from the Serb Union of Independent Social Democrats described the resolution as “probably the result of Bosniak pressure” and said it would hinder reconciliation and the search for justice. http://bit.ly/1GuuDB5

Sri Lanka President Sirisena pledges war crimes inquiry

The BBC reports today that Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena has indicated that a domestic inquiry into alleged war crimes committed during the country’s civil war should be launched within a month. Sirisena told the BBC that Sri Lanka will not allow UN war crimes investigators to visit but “we can take account of their opinion in doing our work, to make it more fruitful”, which, the BBC says, is a significant change from the previous government’s absolute refusal to countenance a UN role. Sirisena said the National Security Council will examine details of people, mostly Tamils, who have been in detention without charge, some for years. He insisted there was now space for open dialogue and dissent on issues including war crimes. http://bbc.in/1B79EQ8

New UAE Cases of Disappearances

Human Rights Watch reports today that United Arab Emirates (UAE) authorities have “disappeared or detained incommunicado” six people since mid-2014. HRW has now documented at least eight instances in which individuals were forcibly disappeared after being in custody of state authorities and identified 12 further cases of incommunicado detention. HRW called on the UAE authorities to reveal the names and whereabouts of all individuals whom they have forcibly disappeared or are holding in incommunicado detention. Those whose whereabouts are unknown after they were detained include the son of an adviser to the former Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, two Qatari nationals, and three Emirati sisters whose families have not had contact with them since 15 February 2015, when they obeyed an official summons to report to an Abu Dhabi police station after they posted comments critical of the government on social media. http://bit.ly/1D8zRVA

Thailand: 11 years on, still no justice for Somchai Neelapaijit

The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) today called on Thailand to ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (ICPPED) and step up efforts to investigate the enforced disappearance of Somchai Neelapaijit, a lawyer who defended the rights of members of Muslim communities in the south of Thailand, and who was abducted and disappeared on 12 March 2004. According to eyewitnesses, a group of individuals forced him into a car on Bangkok’s Ramkhamhaeng Road. Despite strong circumstantial evidence of his death, Somchai’s body was never found. Thailand signed the ICPPED in January 2012 but has not yet ratified the treaty. After the ratification of the ICPPED, Thai authorities will have an obligation to investigate enforced disappearances and bring those responsible to justice with regard to cases that occurred prior to the ratification. http://bit.ly/1GGJXhB

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.