Daily World News Digest, 14 January 2016

Thailand: End impunity for enforced disappearances

Human Rights Watch issued a statement today saying that the Thai government should immediately act to end enforced disappearances in Thailand. The government should make enforced disappearance a criminal offense and take serious steps to bring those responsible for this human rights violation to justice. On 29 December, 2015 the Supreme Court acquitted five police officers charged in the March 2004 disappearance of a prominent human rights lawyer, Somchai Neelapaijit, despite the admission by then-Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra that the police were responsible. Since 1980, the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance has recorded 82 cases of enforced disappearance in Thailand http://bit.ly/1Pt10mO

Mexico: Gross incompetence and inertia fuels disappearances epidemic

Amnesty International issued a news today saying that systemic incompetence and a complete lack of will by State and Federal authorities in Mexico to properly search for and investigate the disappearance of thousands of people is fueling a human rights crisis of epidemic proportions. ‘’Treated with indolence: The state’s response to disappearances in Mexico’’ reveals how the deep failings in the investigation into the enforced disappearance of 43 students in the southern state of Guerrero in September 2014 are mirrored in the northern state of Chihuahua and across the country. In many cases the individuals who are reported missing were last seen being arrested by the police or detained by the military. http://bit.ly/1SPAKbU

Enforced disappearances in Guerrero, Mexico rise to 22

Telesur news reported on 13 January that the number of enforced disappearances in the violence-ravaged state of Guerrero in Mexico has risen to 22 within a week. Local authorities discovered a body that belongs to one of the 17 people reported to have disappeared in the municipality of Arcelia after an armed attack against a caravan that was heading to a wedding on Saturday. In a separate attack, more people were reportedly kidnapped Monday when an armed group entered a school in Santa Ana de Aguila, taking with them five teachers. Arcelia’s Mayor Adolfo Torales has ruled out the possibility that this crime is related with the organized crime plaguing the region known as “Tierra Caliente”. http://bit.ly/1JLZ5xd

China detains Swedish human rights worker Peter Dahlin amid crackdown on defense lawyers

The BBC reported on 13 January that Peter Dahlin is believed to be the first foreign national detained in connection with the drive.  The foreign ministry said Mr Dahlin, who co-founded a group offering legal aid to Chinese citizens, China Action, is suspected of harming the national interest.  Peter Dahlin’s Chinese girlfriend is also missing and is thought to be in police custody. On Tuesday, seven human rights lawyers and their associates who have been missing since last summer were formally arrested and charged with “subversion”, according to their friends and relatives. Since July more than 280 human rights lawyers and activists – along with their associates – were summoned, detained or just disappeared. http://bbc.in/1PZB595

Rise in missing minors stirs fear among parents in Burma

Irrawaddy, a magazine from Burma, carried a story on 13 January saying that Mee Mee is a 30-year-old housewife, and the mother of twin girls, aged five. Alarmed by rumors of human trafficking circulating on social media, she has begun keeping a closer eye on her daughters; the rate of missing persons under the age of 18 has reached new heights, and speculation about the causes has run rampant. Nearly 100 people below the age of 18 went missing in December of last year, according to police figures, a staggering percentage of the 251 total reported missing persons cases that month. In cases where the missing person was aged between 15 and 20, he said, the reasons for disappearance included domestic violence and a desire to work. Some were found to have been victims of human trafficking. http://bit.ly/1PcIvCS

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.