Daily World News Digest, 17 February 2015

Sri Lanka UN war crimes report delayed until September

The BBC reported on 17 February a UN announcement that the publication of a long-awaited report into alleged atrocities committed in the final stage of Sri Lanka’s civil war has been delayed until September. The administration of incoming Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena has undertaken to cooperate “on a whole range of human rights issues” and has asked for more time to prepare for the release of the report, which was due to have been published next month. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein welcomed the delay, saying that it is possible that “important new information” could emerge in relation to the report. http://bbc.in/1v8XwlG

Gunmen kill Mexican activist searching for the Disappeared

Venezuela’s Telesur media group reported on 16 February that a Mexican woman belonging to a group of activists searching for disappeared relatives was murdered on Friday in Iguala, Guerrero State. Two men on a motorbike shot Norma Bruno in the head in front of her three children, authorities said. Bruno belonged to the citizen committee Relatives of the Other Disappeared, created after the discovery of mass graves and corpses near Iguala shortly after the forced disappearance of 43 students in the same state in September. Since 23 November the group has located and exhumed 48 bodies, including three that were successfully identified and handed over to families. http://bit.ly/17duxCd

Amnesty: Mediterranean fatalities should shock EU into action

Amnesty International issued a statement on 16 February asserting that the European Union’s limited search and rescue resources have contributed to the soaring death toll of migrants in the Mediterranean. “Unless the void of Italy’s now defunct lifesaving Mare Nostrum search and rescue operation is filled, refugees and migrants will continue to die in great numbers at sea,” said Matteo de Bellis, Amnesty International’s Italy Campaigner The Italian coast guard confirmed that Italian authorities and merchant vessels rescued a total of more than 2,800 people in at least 18 boats between Friday 13 and Sunday 15 February. http://bit.ly/17HxED5

IOM Calls for Coordinated Response to “Unravelling” Libya

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) called on 16 February for the international community to act swiftly to address the growing threat to Mediterranean migrants. It highlighted the large numbers rescued from unseaworthy boats since 13 February. “This is a clear signal that the situation in Libya is unravelling,” IOM Director General William Lacy Swing said. “We must stand ready to assist thousands of extremely vulnerable people who need our help.” IOM Italy Chief of Mission Federico Soda said “the relatively few, small ships that we (Italy and its European partners) are currently using, are insufficient to rescue a large number of people fleeing Libya.” http://bit.ly/1CAcUF6

Syrian authorities urged to release activists

A coalition of 71 human rights groups issued a statement on 16 February urging the Syrian government to release human rights activists Mazen Darwish, Hani Al-Zitani and Hussein Gharir on the third anniversary of their imprisonment. The statement says that the three men have been arbitrarily deprived of their liberty on the basis of their human rights activities and that they were detained for approximately one year in conditions amounting to enforced disappearance. In February 2013, the three were taken before the Anti-Terrorism Court on charges of “publicizing terrorist acts” under Article 8 of the Anti-Terrorism Law of 2012. Since then, the court has repeatedly postponed their trial, most recently in January 2015. A new trial date has not yet been set. http://bit.ly/1Mtqsdv

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.