Daily World News Digest, 17 September 2015

UN urges creation of special court in Sri Lanka after new report confirms ”horrific” abuses

The UN News Center carried a story on 16 September saying that a report released on Wednesday by the UN Human Rights Office has identified patterns of grave violations in Sri Lanka between 2002 and 2011, and recommends the establishment of a hybrid special court to ensure that justice is served. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said that the 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. He continued saying that this report is being presented in a new political context in Sri Lanka, which offers grounds for hope.  The Commissioner said that levels of mistrust in State authorities and institutions by broad segments of Sri Lankan society should not be underestimated, adding that it is for this reason that the establishment of a hybrid special court is so essential. http://bit.ly/1KqEQDj

Amnesty International accuses Cameroon and Boko Haram of human rights abuses

Amnesty International issued a statement on 16 September announcing he launch of a report according to which Boko Haram has slaughtered nearly 400 civilians in northern Cameroon, while a heavy-handed response by security forces and inhumane prison conditions has led to dozens more deaths. Based on three research missions in 2015, “Human Rights under Fire: Attacks and Violations in Cameroon’s Struggle with Boko Haram“, documents how Boko Haram has killed at least 380 civilians since January 2014. In response Cameroonian security forces have raided villages, destroying homes, killing civilians and detaining over 1,000 suspects, some as young as five years old. Serious incidents have not been effectively investigated, including one where at least 25 people died in custody. More than 130 people remain missing. http://bit.ly/1KpB0Kz

Gambia: Two decades of fear and repression

Human Rights Watch issued a statement today saying that Gambia’s government is committing serious human rights violations against perceived critics and political opponents, perpetuating a climate of fear and repression. The 81-page report, “State of Fear: Arbitrary Arrests, Torture, and Killings,” describes the human rights situation in Gambia since President Yahya Jammeh took power in 1994. “State security forces and shadowy paramilitary groups carry out unlawful killings and arbitrarily arrest, detain, and forcibly disappear people, causing hundreds to flee the tiny country, best known internationally as a tourist destination,” the report says. Most of the abuses documented in the report are from 2013 to 2015. Most recently, after a coup attempt in December 2014, dozens of people were forcibly disappeared and allegedly tortured, HRW says. http://bit.ly/1JcOkwK\

Finding the disappeared in the shadow of Mexico’s 43 missing students

Newser, a US news portal, carried a story on 16 September about 17 people who vanished from Cocula in Mexico on 1 July 2013 — more than a year before the disappearance of 43 college students in the nearby city of Iguala drew the world’s attention to the mountains of northern Guerrero and to the issue of Mexico’s disappeared. The disappearance of the students from Ayotzinapa on 26 September 2014 gave hundreds of other families who had loved ones vanish the courage to come forward, many for the first time, to report the crimes. In recent months, The Associated Press interviewed the family members of 158 of those “other disappeared” who came to report their cases, provide DNA samples and go into the surrounding mountains with machetes and steel rods to look for hidden graves. The families have found 60 graves and, with the help of federal authorities, recovered the remains of 104 people. Six of those have been identified and returned to their families. http://bit.ly/1OfVbNQ

Finding missing persons in Spain

El País carried a story on 16 September noting that each year, dozens of people go missing in Spain, and it is impossible to know how many of them might have been murdered. The police admit that with no evidence of wrongdoing, there is little they can do, and the cases are soon filed away. In January 2013, the Interior Ministry released figures on missing persons in Spain for the first time. They revealed that, between 2010 and 2012, 29,607 such reports were filed with the police, of which 27,279 were resolved. This means that around 800 people a year go unaccounted for – that’s two per day. The job of finding people has been easier since 2010, when Spain’s different regional and national police forces finally merged their missing persons databases. http://bit.ly/1NDH5Ww

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.