Daily World News Digest, 13 January 2016

ICMP to assist Vietnam in identifying war dead

Nature, international weekly of science, carried a story on 12 January saying that smart DNA technologies will be used to identify the bones of the half a million or more Vietnamese soldiers and civilians who are thought still to be missing. The ICMP will also have a role in training Vietnamese scientists in regards to critical aspects of identification. ‘’It was possible to extract useful levels of DNA from around 80% of the bones from the Srebrenica victims’’, says Thomas Parsons, head of the ICMP lab. ‘’The Vietnamese bones have been in the ground for longer and in a more damaging climate, but highly optimized methods and careful selection of skeletal samples will help’’, he says. http://bit.ly/1TU6SJD

Inquiry into missing and murdered women in Canada needs funding, advocates say

The Globe and Mail, a daily from Canada, carried a story on 12 January saying that the good intentions driving plans for a national inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women must be matched with money to implement recommendations that come out of it, a group of long-time women’s advocates said before meeting with Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett. The proceedings should also make room for groups that have worked with vulnerable women for years on issues of violence and racism. Without such input, the inquiry could become a way for people to share their stories, but not much else, the group maintains. Advocates say that they will insist on implementing their recommendations into government’s plan. http://bit.ly/1l5eWv8

Swedish human rights worker held in China

The Local Sweden, a news portal, reported on 12 January that a man known as Peter Beckenridge, who worked for the Chinese Urgent Action Working Group has been detained on suspicion of endangering state security according to another advocacy organization. A document submitted by the group to the UN detailing “intimidation, surveillance, and house arrest to physical attacks, enforced disappearance and arbitrary detention” of activists listed Beckenridge as a contact. China has recently passed a new law on overseas NGOs which places them under close supervision by Chinese police while operating in the country. http://bit.ly/1RCskWc

Mexico ruling on slayings could jeopardize prosecutions in case of missing students

US News reported on 12 January that an appeals court ruling is threatening to derail Mexico’s effort to prosecute suspects in the case of disappearance and presumed murder of 43 students in Guerrero state. The injunction, which came in response to an appeal of the charges by lawyers for the 22 police officers, found prosecutorial errors including inconsistent testimony and scant evidence. If those can’t be fixed, the case would be thrown out. The injunction complains that the case against the officers relies on invalid testimonies. It says there’s no explanation of exactly who did what, and no proof linking individual suspects to specific crimes. According to lawyers, this puts in jeopardy all related prosecutions.  http://bit.ly/1UO4tAc

China: Persecution of labor activists escalates

Human Rights Watch issued a statement today saying that the Chinese government should immediately release four labor rights activists who were formally arrested in Guangdong province on apparent politically motivated grounds. “These formal arrests of labor activists signify a significant escalation in the Chinese government’s assault on civil society since President Xi Jinping came to power,” said Brad Adams, Asia director. The four were among over a dozen labor rights activists from four workers organizations taken into custody on 3 December by police in Guangdong province. The targeting of labor rights groups appears to be part of the Chinese government’s broad assault on media, Internet users, lawyers, and academia. http://bit.ly/1ZsMQNd

Mass graves, missing children: Evidence of brutality in Iraqi town of Sinjar

CNN carried a story on 12 January about brutality that Yazidis experienced by ISIS. Mahama al-Shangali, the mayor of Sinjar in northern Iraq explains where the site of the massacre was – where they buried the young men, the women and the boys who refused to be conscripted by the terrorist group as child soldiers. Kurdish authorities tell CNN they have evidence that about 600 children were abducted from Sinjar and the surrounding Yazidi villages. Iman and Assim are one of the few children who escaped from ISIS and they explain the torture they experienced. The children as well as their parents hope that one day, it will be safe enough there for forensic investigators to come and identify the children whose remains are still buried in mass graves. http://cnn.it/1ShLmRs

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.