Daily World News Digest, 16 September 2015

Sri Lanka war crimes judicial process must be under UN

The Asian Tribune reported today that two councilors from northern Sri Lanka have presented a memorandum to the UN Office in Jaffna, the Consul General of India and the Chief Minister of the Northern Provincial Council calling on the UN Human Rights Council to ensure that that judicial investigation into war crimes in Sri Lanka is international and under UN control, and they said that Tamils in Sri Lanka want the UN to recommend referral of cases to the International Criminal Court or to an international special criminal tribunal for Sri Lanka. The councilors are demanding an international probe into atrocities committed by government troops in the final days of the conflict in May 2009. They called on the UN to require Sri Lanka to provide data on at least 12,000 missing persons, including at least 6,000 Tamil Tiger members and their family including children, who surrendered to the Sri Lankan military and are still unaccounted for. http://bit.ly/1OdQl3C

HRW urges Thailand to release dozens of asylum seekers held in detention

Human Rights Watch issued a statement today calling on the Thai authorities to release 64 asylum seekers detained in a recent raid who are being held in immigration detention. The asylum seekers – including seven children – are from Pakistan and Somalia, and possess “person of concern” documents issued by the United Nations refugee agency. On 10 September 2015, Thai officials and police raided an apartment complex in the Pracha Uthit area of Bangkok and arrested scores of Pakistani and Somali asylum seekers. Sixty-four were quickly tried for overstaying their visas, fined, and sent to the Suan Phlu Immigration Detention Center in Bangkok. Thailand is not a party to the 1951 Refugee Convention and has never enacted refugee law and procedures. Asylum seekers in Thailand thus seek recognition of their refugee status from the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). “People who are seeking refugee protection should not be detained,” said Bill Frelick, refugee program director. “Once Thai authorities became aware the people apprehended were asylum seekers, they should have found alternatives to detention for them and their children.” http://bit.ly/1JbgXKx

Kenyan security agents behind killings and disappearances

The BBC reported on 15 September that Kenyan security forces have carried out 25 extrajudicial killings in the last two years in a crackdown on militants, according to Kenya’s official rights body.  The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights said it had also recorded 81 enforced disappearances since 2013. The report covers the period since the attack on Westgate shopping centre in Nairobi by Islamist militants. It added that it was concerned that ethnic Somalis and Muslims were being disproportionately targeted. There has been no official response to the report so far. The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) said combating terrorism through “official terror” was counter-productive. It said it had recorded 120 “egregious” violations by the security agencies. These violations are widespread, systematic and well co-ordinated and include but are not limited to arbitrary arrests, extortion, illegal detention, torture, killings and disappearances. The report also confirmed the existence of “suspicious graves” in Wajir County and Lanbib in north-eastern Kenya containing remains of dead persons whose circumstances of death remain unexplained. http://bbc.in/1iNbm8j

Kashmir accuses Indian government of facilitating enforced disappearances

The Kashmir Media Service reported on 15 September that Kashmiri representatives on Monday informed world diplomats and human rights defenders in Geneva that India was losing its international goodwill under Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Syed Faiz Naqshbandi, leader of the Kashmiri political party, Hurriyet, told the UN Human Rights Council that the human rights situation in this UN-recognized disputed territory can be considered a human rights crisis. He said that laws have been framed by the Indian Government to facilitate arbitrary arrest and detention, enforced disappearances, and extrajudicial killings with complete impunity. http://bit.ly/1UT7Jii

HRW highlights disappearance of opposition members in Yemen

Human Rights Watch issued a statement on 15 September saying that Yemen’s Houthi authorities should immediately provide information about a prominent opposition party member who was arrested on 4 April, 2015. The Houthis, also known as Ansar Allah, who are resisting Saudi Arabian intervention in Yemen, have yet to respond to inquiries from the family of Muhammad Qahtan, a leader of the Islah party, about his whereabouts or their basis for holding him. The Houthis have made a habit of disappearing people they deem objectionable, according to Joe Stork, HRW deputy Middle East director. Houthi authorities are responsible for Qahtan’s well-being, and should make sure his family has access to him, the statement said. Qahtan’s son, Abd al-Rahman Qahtan, told Human Rights Watch that on 31 March, 12 uniformed Special Security Forces members arrived at Qahtan’s home in Sanaa, the capital. They said that they understood he was planning to travel to the city of Taizz, but forbade him to do so and said that they were placing him under house arrest. They gave no justification for the order, nor clarified under whose authority they were imposing it. In April, shortly after the Islah Party publicly endorsed Saudi-led coalition airstrikes against the Houthis, Houthi forces detained without charge, and in some cases forcibly disappeared, more than 100 Islah members. Qahtan, a prominent member of the party’s Supreme Committee, its decision-making authority, was arrested at the same time. http://bit.ly/1LvGPCF

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.