Daily World News Digest, 19 February 2018

Malaysia: lawyer calls for enforced disappearance inquiry to continue

The lawyer representing the family of Raymond Koh, a Christian clergyman who was abducted near Kuala Lumpur on 13 February 2017, said on Saturday that the public inquiry by the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) into the abduction should not have been suspended after police charged a suspect whom they had previously ruled out as the culprit. Gurdial Singh Nijar insisted that the police case against the suspect “has nothing to do with whether the state was complicit or not” in Koh’s disappearance. “. . . the crux of the inquiry is the term ‘enforced disappearance’. If so, who is responsible for the disappearance?  Did the higher-ups know about it? And how high does it reach?”  http://bit.ly/2GpCLZM

Enforced disappearance in Uganda

The Daily Monitor from Uganda published an editorial on Sunday urging the government to address the issue of enforced disappearance, and highlighting the cases of two journalists who, it says, were recently abducted by members of the security forces. “The circumstances of their disappearances fit the definition of enforced disappearances, a crime under international law, where State officials or those acting with State consent pick up someone and move them away from their loved ones and their community, from the street or from their homes and then deny it, or refuse to say where they are,” the article says. http://bit.ly/2ECVvof

Nepal: more needed to tackle legacy of enforced disappearances

Ram Bhandari, the founder of Nepal’s National Network of Families of Disappeared and Missing Persons (NEFAD), published an article in The Kathmandu Post on Friday, commenting on the government’s decision to prolong the mandate of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons. The two agencies have received more than 60,000 complaints since they were formed in 2015, but the extension of their mandates was not accompanied by recommended legal reforms and increased resources. Ram Bhandari said NEFAD wants to see “a clear roadmap for a full investigation of every case, establishing truth to give a satisfactory answer to the families, creating an environment for justice, protecting evidence and framing comprehensive reparation measures.” http://bit.ly/2EEpgJy

Forensic team examines mass grave in Syria

A team of US military and federal law enforcement forensic experts has made its first visit to a suspected mass gravesite near Raqqa, Syria, where the remains of executed US hostages may be located, according to US defense officials. The precise location of the site is not being disclosed because of security concerns ISIS could target the area which is currently under Syrian Democratic Forces control, the officials say. The team is looking for the remains of American hostages, and possibly other westerners, executed by Mohammed Emwazi, the British ISIS operative known as Jihadi John. He was filmed beheading multiple hostages. http://cnn.it/2EBUT2e

DNA network helps identify missing persons in the US

Over the last decade, thousands of families of missing persons have submitted DNA samples to the New York Medical Examiner’s Office, mostly in the form of saliva swabs. This has led to the identification of about 50 missing people each year, all of whom had been found dead. The program helped end Luis Merchan’s quest to find his younger brother, Manuel, who was reported missing in 2015 after he left his native Ecuador and crossed the US border from Mexico. DNA matched with the remains of a 35-year-old “John Doe” who succumbed to exposure and dehydration in the Texas desert. “It’s sad,” Merchan said. “We hoped Manuel would call one day. But we at least know what happened.” http://bit.ly/2Fdjrjd

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.