Daily World News Digest, 17 June 2015

Mexican military, Federal police linked to Ayotzinapa case

teleSUR carried a story on 15 June reporting that a former judge seeking asylum in the United States has said he witnessed events on the night that 43 Ayotzinapa students were forcibly disappeared. Speaking to journalists from Proceso magazine, the judge gave a new version of what happened in Iguala, in the southern state of Guerrero, on the night of 26 September. He suggests that federal and military officials were directly involved in the targeting of the trainee teachers. This contradicts the conclusions of the official investigation. The attorney general’s office has made public a criminal report which finds that only municipal police were involved. It said that after the students were detained at the local jail, corrupt officers handed them over to the local drug cartel Guerreros Unidos, whose members burned the bodies at a local garbage dump and threw the remains in a nearby river. However, exiled Judge Ulises Bernabe, who was in charge of administrative procedures at Iguala’s police station, says the students were never taken to the jail. http://bit.ly/1FlOJej

IOM cites discovery of more victims in Sahara among migrants bound for Libya

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) reported on 16 June that the discovery on Monday of the remains of 30 migrants in Dirkou, northeast of Niger’s Agadez crossroads brings to 48 the total of dead migrants found in the Sahara this week, adding to the growing death toll of migrants from Africa and the Middle East believed to have perished this year on their way to Europe. Because of the difficulty of searching for migrants transiting – sometimes, wandering lost – in the Sahara, only a fraction of those losing their lives annually are ever located, IOM researchers say. In 2014, IOM’s Migration Research Unit recorded just over 50 known deaths of migrants travelling on routes headed towards North Africa’s Mediterranean coastline. “This is more reflective of an extreme lack of information than it is of the actual numbers who have died,” said researcher Tara Brian this week. “Certainly hundreds more are perishing on these routes each year without the knowledge of authorities or the press.” http://bit.ly/1GYbT1z

Libya: Widespread Torture in Detention

Human Rights Watch reports today that Libya’s internationally recognized government and its allied forces are responsible for widespread arbitrary detentions and for torture and other ill-treatment in detention facilities that they control in Eastern Libya. In January and April 2015, Human Rights Watch received rare access to detention facilities in al-Bayda and Benghazi controlled by the Libyan Army and the Justice and Interior Ministries, and interviewed 73 detainees individually without guards present. Many detainees said that interrogators had forced them under torture to “confess” to serious crimes. They described other abuses, including lack of due process, absence of medical care, denial of family visits, lack of notification of families about their detention, and poor conditions. The detainees included children under 18. In the three detention centers visited, the Libyan Army and the Interior Ministry’s Counter Terrorism Unit are holding about 450 “security detainees” in connection with the current conflict. Of those visited, 35 detainees told Human Rights Watch that they were tortured on arrest, under interrogation, or during their detention. Thirty-one said interrogators forced them to “confess” to crimes; four said that the authorities then broadcast their “confessions” on TV, leading to reprisal attacks on their families. All of the detainees Human Rights Watch interviewed said they had not been given access to lawyers, taken before a judge, or formally charged despite many months of detention. http://bit.ly/1FlOy2A

Serb paramilitaries acquitted of killing 28 Roma

Balkan Insight carried a story on 16 June reporting that a Belgrade court has acquitted six former members of the ‘Sima’s Chetniks’ paramilitary group of killing 28 Roma civilians, including three children, raping and torturing three women and destroying a mosque near the Bosnian town of Zvornik in 1992. The presiding judge said that although the court had “established without doubt” that the men were there when killings took place in July 1992, there was not enough evidence to convict them. “They might have committed the crimes, but there is no reliable and undoubted evidence to support that,” she said. Witnesses stated during the trial that Sima’s Chetniks acted under orders from the headquarters of the Serbian Radical Party. However, Vojislav Seselj, the head of the party, who is also on trial for alleged war crimes, has denied that he had any control over paramilitary units in Zvornik, accusing Zeljko Raznatovic, alias Arkan, who died in a gangland shooting in 2000, of having command responsibility. http://bit.ly/1G2F9P4

“British draft resolution mentions word ‘genocide’ 35 times”

The b92 news portal carried a story on 16 June reporting that the Belgrade newspapers Politika and Vecernje Novosti have published the draft British Security-Council resolution that “condemns any denial of genocide in Srebrenica.” According to these reports, UN member states are urged to include lessons “about such crimes” in school textbooks. The draft should be adopted on 7 July , “four days before the 20th anniversary of the crime in Srebrenica,” the reports say. Politika writes that the 4-page draft “mentions the word ‘genocide’ 35 times, and the word ‘reconciliation’ only three times.” The introduction recalls that the Hague Tribunal, in the judgment of General Radislav Krtstić on 19 April 2004, concluded that genocide occurred in Srebrenica, and that the same qualification of the crime was given by the International Court of Justice in 2007.  It also states that “tens of thousands of women, girls, men and boys were victims of sexual violence during the conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina, including in Srebrenica.” In its report about the draft resolution, Vecernje Novosti also counts the word “genocide” 35 times, and mentions the reference to “tens of thousands of sexually abused persons,” as well as that there is no mention at all of Serb victims – “only sympathy for all the victims in general.” http://bit.ly/1G2Cwww

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.