Daily World News Digest, 14 July 2015

Colombian city’s new face and violent underbelly collide

The New York Times reported on 13 July on high levels of violence in Colombia. The added law enforcement presence in Buenaventura and focus on arresting gang members has cut the murder rate significantly, according to Col. Marcelo Russi, who took over as police commander in September. Disappearances were also down. But there are so many unsolved cases, including a backlog of more than 400 disappearances, that investigators have hardly been able to make a dent in them. Prosecutors said that many murders and disappearances occurred when people unwittingly crossed borders between gang territories. Human Rights Watch, an advocacy group based in New York, has published two recent reports denouncing conditions here. http://nyti.ms/1Tyk6fy

Human rights abuses persist in China

Voice of America carried a story on 12 July saying that in China, the government continues to commit human rights abuses. According to the State Department’s 2014 Human Rights Report, repression and coercion were routine, particularly against organizations and individuals involved in civil and political rights advocacy and public interest issues, ethnic minorities, and law firms that took on sensitive cases. In particular, the government convicted civil society activists associated with the New Citizens Movement in retribution for their public campaign to expose official corruption, including activists Xu Zhiyong and Yang Maodong. Authorities resorted to extralegal measures such as enforced disappearance and strict house arrest, including house arrest of family members, to prevent public expression of independent opinions. http://1.usa.gov/1gyHBqK

Syrian regime raids kill civilians in ISIS-held town

Al Arabya, a news portal from the United Arab Emirates, reported on 13 July that at least 13 people were killed on Monday during Syrian government raids on the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), according to Agence France Presse. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said seven women and a child were among those killed in the raids on the ISIS-held town of Al-Bab. One of the places hit in the town located in northern Aleppo province was a market selling petrol, the Britain-based monitor said. More than 40 people were wounded and 10 others were still missing after the raids. The Local Coordination Committees activist network said charred bodies were recovered from the site of one of the strikes. On Saturday, 34 people, mostly civilians and of which three were children, were killed in similar regime strikes on Al-Bab. http://bit.ly/1Jf0Axt

Rights lawyers in Philippines petitioned the Supreme Court

InterAksyon, news portal from Philippines, reports today that human rights lawyers have appealed to the Supreme Court on behalf of government workers and child rights activists who have complained of worsening harassment and threats allegedly carried out by state security agents. The National Union of People’s Lawyers said in a statement that the petition filed by “members and officers of the Confederation for the Unity, Recognition, and Advancement of Government Employees (COURAGE), as well as members of the Children’s Rehabilitation Center (CRC), aims to raise the alarm once again against the persistent and systematic state repression faced by progressive voices in our society.” Quoting the human rights group Karapatan’s findings that such threats “often precede an extra-judicial killing or enforced disappearance,” the NUPL said “the acts of these suspected military and police operatives constitute a real and present threat to the lives, security, and liberty of the petitioners.” http://bit.ly/1HsD9jU

Advanced forensics unearthing the Bosnian massacre at Srebrenica

Forensic, magazine from the United States, carried a story on 13 July relating the Srebrenica genocide to the rapid development of the forensics. International trials of the accused killers are still underway, involving evidence still being collected at the death sites, two decades later. But an organization that was founded in the wake of the conflict in the former Yugoslavia, the International Commission on Missing Persons, is moving beyond the Balkans region and taking its mission to investigate and help prosecute slaughter on the global stage. ICMP employs massive DNA databases and wide-ranging investigations of crimes against humanity. ICMP was also the first organization to use DNA for identification of large numbers of missing persons. http://bit.ly/1M3jqN4

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.