Daily World News Digest, 17 February 2017

Call for foreign judges in Sri Lanka in war crimes investigations 

SBS, an Australian online news agency, reports today that Human Rights Watch has urged Sri Lanka to employ foreign judges and prosecutors to ensure justice when bringing to trial those responsible for crimes against humanity during the country’s civil war. A decades-long civil war in Sri Lanka ended with the defeat of Tamil separatists in 2009, prompting an international investigation into alleged crimes against humanity. The investigation found indications of “grave” violations in Sri Lanka between 2002 and 2011. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said in 2015: “Our investigation has laid bare the horrific level of violations and abuses that occurred in Sri Lanka, including indiscriminate shelling, extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, harrowing accounts of torture and sexual violence, recruitment of children and other grave crimes.” http://bit.ly/2lURVN9 

Migrants missing off Spain’s Canary Islands 

The Local reported yesterday that dozens of migrants risking their lives to try to reach Europe were rescued off the Canary Islands Thursday, after nine others were missing and feared dead near the south of the Spanish mainland. Forty-seven men, 11 women and a baby from sub-Saharan Africa were saved some 160 nautical miles south of the island of Grand Canaria. On Wednesday, another boat heading from Morocco towards the southern Spanish city of Cadiz was intercepted by a Moroccan patrol vessel. Two people were rescued, but nine others were reported missing and feared dead, the Spanish coast guard spokeswoman said. http://bit.ly/2lqzS3B

China targets human rights defenders

The Jurist reported yesterday that the Network of Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD) released its annual report on Thursday, highlighting what it described as “intensified crackdowns on human rights defenders in China”. According to the CHRD report, human rights activities are being criminalized as “’political’ threats to ‘national security.’” The report highlights a number of practices used by the government, such as enforced disappearances, arbitrary detention, and acts of torture against human rights defenders, pointing particularly to those secretly detained in the July 2015 crackdown on lawyers, known as the “709 Crackdown.” CHRD also stated: “Not only have authorities denied detainees access to counsel, they have increasingly pressured detainees to dismiss their own lawyers or those hired by their families, and use government appointed lawyers instead. http://bit.ly/2lUF2md

No human remains found at suspected mass grave in Kosovo 

Balkan Insight reported yesterday that the excavation of a suspected mass grave under a mosque in the divided northern Kosovo town of Mitrovica did not yield any human remains. The director of Kosovo’s Institute of Forensic Medicine, Arsim Gerxhaliu, said on Thursday that investigators had dug to a depth of two meters under the mosque in Mitrovica but did not find a suspected mass grave or any human remains. He said further excavation would take place on the other side of the mosque. Missing persons’ relatives suspect that bodies of people killed during the war might have been buried under the mosque next to the bridge over the River Ibar, which divides Mitrovica between its ethnic Albanian and Serb sectors. http://bit.ly/2kwyixU 

Enforced disappearances in Pakistan 

The Business Standard reports today that The International Crisis Group (ICG) has said in a recent report that decades of neglect and mismanagement have turned Karachi, Pakistan’s financial capital, and the country’s largest and wealthiest city, into a pressure cooker. In its report, the Crisis Group raised concern over the functioning of paramilitary Rangers in Karachi city. It said, “Characterized by heavy-handedness and human rights violations, including extra-judicial killings, torture and enforced disappearances, it instead breeds ethnic tensions and could boost recruitment to criminal, including jihadist networks”. http://bit.ly/2kZHolq

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.