Daily World News Digest, 12 May 2015

EU seeks UN support to tackle migrant smuggling

The BBC reports today that EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini has pleaded for UN help to dismantle criminal groups smuggling migrants into the European Union. “We need to count on your support to save lives,” she told a Security Council briefing on EU plans to use force against smugglers. Libya, where many smugglers operate, has objected to the EU proposals. More than 1,800 migrants have died in the Mediterranean in 2015 – a 20-fold increase on the same period in 2014. Some 60,000 people have already tried to make the perilous crossing this year, the UN estimates. Many are fleeing conflict or poverty in countries such as Syria, Eritrea, Nigeria and Somalia. Ms Mogherini was seeking to determine a legal basis for the search-and-destroy operations to be carried out on empty Libyan, smuggling boats. The difficulty lies in telling the difference between a fishing boat and a trafficker’s vessel, while ensuring the safety of migrants. The ways to achieve this are still being deliberated. EU officials say they are considering an “unorthodox” approach “that hasn’t been tried before”. The complexities are expected to be worked out by next week. Diplomats are said to be drafting a resolution which will need to be agreed by the five permanent members of the UN Security Council: Britain, France, China, Russia and the US. http://bbc.in/1Ix19FZ

Human rights team expresses concern over torture allegations in Mexico

Yahoo.com reports today that a team of outside experts investigating Mexico’s handling of the disappearance of 43 students in September 2014 reported on Monday that some of those arrested in relation to the case have said they were tortured. The team from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights also said on its third visit to Mexico that it was concerned that there were currently 13 different criminal proceedings connected to the case, spread across six courts in different locations. It suggested the cases be combined before a single judge. The team interviewed 16 of the more than 100 people detained in the case, most of whom said they had been mistreated and tortured. The five-member team has a six-month mission, which will conclude at the end of August. http://yhoo.it/1dYQsAF

Thailand police downplay police links to human trafficking

The Malay Mail news portal reported on 11 May that Thai police have downplayed a probe into more than 50 officers transferred over suspected links to human trafficking networks, saying the transfers were “standard operating procedure” and that most of the officers were suspected only of negligence. Southeast Asia is being hit by a wave of migrants arriving in Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia, part of a regional human trafficking crisis driven by conflict, persecution and poverty. Malaysia detained more than one thousand Rohingya migrants from Myanmar and Bangladeshis on 11 May, a day after Indonesian authorities rescued more than 500 stranded off the coast of the country’s western tip. In Thailand, authorities are questioning more than 100 migrants near the country’s border with Malaysia to determine whether they were victims of human trafficking. Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha ordered a clean-up of suspected human trafficking camps around the country last week after 33 bodies, believed to be of migrants from Myanmar and Bangladesh, were found in shallow graves in the south of the country, near Malaysia. http://bit.ly/1KDBWbI

Afghanistan Hazara kidnapped passengers released

The BBC reported on 11 May that 19 of 31 men kidnapped on a bus in southern Afghanistan have been released in an apparent prisoner swap. The passengers, all from the minority Hazara community, were seized in February while making their way back to Afghanistan from jobs in Iran. Negotiations continue for the release of the other hostages, who are expected to be exchanged for six Uzbek women. A video released last month by a militant group allegedly showed the beheading of one of the hostages. One of the negotiators, Assadullah Kakar, told the BBC that the 19 who had been released were exchanged for 22 children of the families of Uzbek insurgents, who had been held in government prisons. http://bbc.in/1RyqHGH

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.