Daily World News Digest, 15 December 2015

Cyprus signs ICMP Treaty

Cyprus News Agency reported on 14 December that the Republic of Cyprus today became the eighth country to sign the Agreement on the Status and Functions of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP). A total of 493 Turkish Cypriots and 1,508 Greek Cypriots have been reported as missing by both communities as a result of events in the 1960s and in 1974. ICMP has worked with the Committee on Missing Persons in Cyprus (CMP) since July 2012, when it began providing assistance in making DNA-based identifications.  Following the signing of the Agreement, ICMP hopes to explore options to enhance it support. ICMP Director-General Kathryne Bomberger said this morning’s accession to the Agreement would make it easier for ICMP to work with stakeholders in Cyprus. http://bit.ly/1lL2zFQ

Bosnia and Herzegovina: 20 years of denial and injustice

Amnesty International USA issued a statement on 14 December saying that twenty years after the signature of the peace agreement that ended the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, resolving the thousands of cases of enforced disappearances still remains utopic while discrimination and a shameful lack of political will still block access to justice, truth and reparation for victims. Uncovering the fate of the disappeared has been made even more difficult by funding cuts to the Missing Persons Institute, further reducing capacity for new. The government failed to implement the Law on Missing Persons, adopted in 2004 with the aim of establishing a fund for supporting families of the disappeared. Amnesty International is urging authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina to truly commit to resolving the over 8,000 outstanding cases of enforced disappearances from the war, and to provide access to truth, justice and reparation for the families.  http://bit.ly/1jZBehb

Bosnia experts find mass grave with Srebrenica victims

Daily Mail reported on 14 December that Forensic experts say they found a mass grave in northeast Bosnia most likely containing victims’ remains from the 1995 Srebrenica massacre. Eldar Jahic, an investigator of Bosnia’s prosecution office, said Monday that the grave was found thanks to satellite images of an area near the village of Kozluk. Jahic says it seems to be a grave where victims of the massacre were buried in July 1995 and then some of them relocated to another site in September in order to hide the crime. So far, incomplete remains from around a dozen different bodies were found. The victims are presumed to have been systematically executed by firing squads. http://dailym.ai/1I69eEk

Executions, enforced disappearances dominate Egyptian scene on Human Rights Day

Ikhwan Web, a news portal from Egypt, carried a story on 14 December saying that as the world marks the Human Rights Day, international and local rights organizations document how the military coup regime’s atrocities against Egyptians have increased, with enforced disappearances alone rising almost tenfold in the months from February to May 2015. During August and September 2015, the “Stop Forced Disappearance” campaign documented 215 cases of disappearance in cities across Egypt. Egypt’s forces have conducted other atrocities as well, such as torture, extrajudicial killings and death sentences for political prisoners. The Stop Egypt Execution (SEE) campaign said “enforced disappearance is a critical issue that still tops the list of violations. Although it is a crime with no statute of limitations, the Egyptian regime and the IM use enforced disappearance as a regular method systematically followed in dealing with opponents.” http://bit.ly/1NmEXjB

Systematic enforced disappearances is an international crime

Tamil Net news portal reported on 14 December that noting the re-emerging threat of white van abductions and enforced disappearances in the historic homeland, the Northeast, of Eezham Tamils, Professor Francis Boyle, an expert in international law, said that systematic enforced disappearances is a crime against humanity under the Rome Statute. In the case of Sri Lanka, its enforced disappearances of Eelam Tamils was both widespread and systematic and thus constitutes a Crime against Humanity. A three-member delegation of the United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID), visited Sri Lanka last month and found that successive governments systematically employed military and paramilitary forces to abduct, torture and ultimately disappear civilians, political opponents and journalists. http://bit.ly/1P4tqWH

Abducted from school and forced to fight in South Sudan’s war

Human Rights Watch carried a story today saying it was the middle of class when armed men burst into a school one morning in December 2013 in the town of Rubkona, in South Sudan’s Unity State. Pointing their weapons at bewildered pupils, the men forced scores of teenage boys to climb into military trucks that had pulled up outside. The abduction, by former government soldiers who defected to become opposition fighters, had taken just minutes. Both government and rebel forces in South Sudan forcibly recruit children into their ranks. Both sides deny it, but a new report by Human Rights Watch, “We Can Die Too,” shows the practice is widespread. The article brings story of one of the hundred boys who were interviewed for the report. He was abducted and spent about nine months with the rebels, called the Sudan People’s Liberation Army-in Opposition, before he was able to escape. http://bit.ly/1lL0J7P

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.