Daily World News Digest, 14 May 2015

Mediterranean migrant crisis: HMS Bulwark rescues hundreds

The BBC reported on 13 May that a British warship has rescued hundreds of migrants from the Mediterranean, according to the UK Ministry of Defence. HMS Bulwark brought more than 400 people to safety after they were found 40 miles from the Libyan coast in inflatable boats. Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said the Royal Navy had rescued about 600 people so far this month. The European Commission has proposed a scheme to offer 20,000 refugees the right to resettle in the EU over the next two years, as part of a €50m plan. The Commission is urging EU states to share the burden of processing asylum claims. Italy and Greece, facing a migrant surge, are struggling to cope. Under EU law the UK, Ireland and Denmark are exempt from the quota plan. There is pressure for tougher EU action to send economic migrants back home. The EU is considering naval action in the Mediterranean to intercept boats used to traffic migrants from North Africa, with Libya a particular hotspot. But EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said concrete military measures would have to be decided on Monday by EU foreign and defence ministers. Meanwhile, UK Home Secretary Theresa May has suggested that some rescued migrants should be returned home. Mrs May said offering resettlement regardless of circumstances to migrants rescued from the Mediterranean would encourage more to make “perilous journeys”, which is why, she said, the UK is not backing a resettlement quota plan. http://bbc.in/1REyUZZ

Myanmar Rohingya migrants trapped without supplies

The BBC reported on 13 May that a group of 350 migrants from Myanmar have told an activist by phone that they have been stranded at sea without food or water for four days. The migrants, including 50 women and 84 children, say that many people are now falling ill after the boat crew abandoned them at the weekend. Their exact position is still unclear, said Chris Lewa of the Arakan Project, which works with the Rohingya minority. Indonesia and Malaysia have been turning migrant boats away. Thailand has launched a crackdown to disrupt people smuggler networks since the discovery of dozens of bodies in abandoned camps along regular trafficking routes. The migrants aboard the drifting ship have been at sea for two months but their situation only became critical when their crew abandoned the boat and left them without a working engine. http://bbc.in/1Fm2lg6

Angola: detention of activists a mockery of justice

Amnesty International and four other human rights organizations issued a statement on 13 May citing the continued detention of two human rights defenders in Angola on charges of crimes against the security of the state as “a blatant oppression of freedom of expression and a mockery of justice”. Jose Marcos Mavungo and Arão Bula Tempo were arrested on 14 March 2015 for peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression and assembly in the country’s Cabinda region. Amnesty International, Lawyers for Human Rights, the Southern Africa Litigation Centre, the International Commission of Jurists and the SADC Lawyers’ Association are calling for their immediate and unconditional release. “There is no basis for accusing these two human rights defenders of any crime, let alone crimes against the security of state. Since the day of their politically motivated arrest, the Angolan authorities have denied these men their right to a fair and speedy trial. This is a violation of their human rights and a mockery of justice. They must be released immediately and unconditionally.” The two human rights defenders are currently held in Cabinda civil prison (Cadeia Civil de Cormaca de Cabinda) facing charges of crimes against the security of the state that could lead to a 15-year jail sentence for rebellion and 10 years for collaborating with foreigners. Jose Marcos Mavungo was arrested at a Church compound as he was going to his regular morning mass on 14 March 2015. The governor of Cabinda had earlier banned his planned protest against human rights violations and bad governance in Cabinda for “representing lack of honour and consideration owed to people and government institutions”. http://bit.ly/1H4MLjU

Saskatchewan Missing Persons Week shows people where to start looking

The Humboldtjournal news portal from Saskatchewan in Canada reported on 13 May on activities related to the observance of Missing Persons Week in Saskatchewan Province on 3-9 May. According to Bettyann Pottruff, children’s counsellor with the Ministry of Justice, the vast majority of missing persons in the province are runaways under 18. Almost all are found within 48 hours. “And then there’s another category, which are fishing and hunting accidents or people getting lost in the wilderness,” she said. “Then there’s a situation where there’s foul play; someone is abducted or something else occurs.” To educate the public and support the week, the Provincial Partnership Committee on Missing Persons (PPCMP) created a fictional missing persons case that people could follow via Twitter. Missing Persons Week also sought to promote awareness of preventative measures that people can take, and publicized a Saskatchewan Missing Persons website associated with the province’s Association of Chiefs of Police, which offers a Missing Persons Checklist, as well as pictures and information about all long-term missing people in the province. http://bit.ly/1PkX2Cv

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.