Daily World News Digest, 20 February 2015

UN rights chief calls on Syria to release detainees

The United Nations released a statement by High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein on 19 February calling on Syrian authorities to release all those held by Government forces and militias, without due process, in some cases for years on end. The High Commissioner noted that activists, lawyers and human rights defenders have been particularly targeted, adding that “in many cases, people are held incommunicado for weeks or months, in particular by Political Security, State Security, Military Security and Air Force Intelligence branches.” http://bit.ly/1FBCUGj

Tamils call for Sri Lanka paramilitary leader to face justice

The Tamil Guardian reported on 19 February that Tamils in the eastern town of Ampara protested on Wednesday demanding that the Tamil paramilitary leader, K Pushpakumar (alias. Iniya Bharathi), should face justice for crimes he is alleged to have committed when he was the regional head of the United People’s Freedom Alliance, the party of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, when hundreds of Tamil youths were reported missing. Iniya Bharathi is part of a Tamil paramilitary group that split from the Tamil Tigers in 2004 after reaching an accommodation with the Government in Colombo. http://bit.ly/1vN9zjx

Mixed picture on human rights in Nepal

The myrepublica news portal from Nepal reported on 19 February that human rights violations by state agencies in Nepal decreased in 2014, according to the Nepal Human Rights Yearbook 2015, published by Informal Sector Service Center (INSEC), a human rights NGO. The Yearbook registers 309 victims of human rights violation by state actors in 2014, comprising 63 women and 246 men. The number of victims was 640 in 2013. However, cases of human rights violations by non-state actors have increased significantly. Non-state actors were found to be responsible for victimizing a total of 5,073 people, including 4,658 women, 411 men and four third-gender people. In 2013, the number of people victimized by non-state actors was 4,795. http://bit.ly/1zshmF0

Australians urged to use geotagging in response to cyclones

The Australian Associated Press reported on 19 February that police in northern Australia are urging people to activate geotagging on their mobile phones to help track down anyone who goes missing in the cyclones currently making landfall. The geotagging function logs the geographical co-ordinates of users’ photos when shared on social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook and provides a map that can help police identify where the photo was uploaded. http://bit.ly/1DzpYzU

Families of Australian missing persons want radical change in police procedure

The Herald Sun newspaper in Melbourne, Australia, reported on 18 February that families of missing or murdered people will meet on 22 February to push for overarching changes to the legal system. The gathering, one of the largest in the state of Victoria, will see families from all over Australia come together to discuss a host of reforms, including tougher punishments for criminals, and increased training for police. http://bit.ly/1zSCx21

Egypt: Arbitrary Execution and Enforced Disappearance of Son and Father

The Alkarama human rights organization issued a statement on 18 February reviewing the case of an Egyptian father and son whom, it says, have been subject to enforced disappearance and arbitrary execution. The organization is urging the Egyptian authorities to investigate the death of 28-year-old mentally disabled, Ammar Youssef Zariea, and to place under the protection of the law his 61-year-old father, Youssef Zariea Salmi, disappeared after his arrest on 2 November 2013. http://bit.ly/1AqYkS2

Azerbaijan accuses Armenia of breaking agreement on prisoners and missing persons

The Azeri-Press Agency reported on 19 February on a claim by the Azerbaijani State Commission that Armenia is violating an agreement signed by the presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia in Paris in October, committing them to establish direct cooperation between authorities in the two countries to address problems related to prisoners of war, hostages and missing persons.  The Azerbaijani side claims that “the Armenian Commission . . . don’t take any concrete steps. It is impossible to achieve any progress in this process due to the non-constructive position of Armenia.”  http://bit.ly/17iePpg

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.