Daily World News Digest, 21 April 2015

Captain of capsized Mediterranean migrants boat charged

The BBC reports today that the Tunisian captain of a boat that capsized off Libya on Sunday, killing hundreds of migrants, has been charged with reckless multiple homicide, Italian officials say. He has also been charged along with a member of the crew with facilitating illegal immigration. The two were among 27 survivors who arrived in Sicily late on Monday. The charges come after the EU set out a package of measures to try to ease the migrant crisis in the Mediterranean. Search-and-rescue operations will be stepped up, and there will be a campaign to destroy traffickers’ boats. A homicide investigation has been opened into the disaster. After speaking to the survivors, the UN refugee agency said that about 800 people had died in Sunday’s sinking, including children aged between 10 and 12. http://bbc.in/1JoSxzn

Saving lives in the Mediterranean must be Europe’s priority

Amnesty International on 20 April called on European governments to prioritize a search and rescue plan to prevent the escalating death toll of migrants attempting to cross the Mediterranean. The Amnesty statement came just ahead of a European Union (EU) foreign and interior ministers meeting in Luxembourg. “Refugees and migrants have been drowning off the coast of Libya at a rate of around 100 a week since the beginning of the year. This is a humanitarian crisis that needs an immediate and concerted European response, not more hand-wringing and denial,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Europe and Central Asia Director. Up to 1,600 people are now believed to have drowned this year alone. http://bit.ly/1IAFTx8

Mexico panel urges new search for 43 missing students

BuzzFeed News reported on 20 April that a group of five independent experts has called on the Mexican government to search two new locations for the 43 students who were abducted in the state of Guerrero at the end of September and open new lines of inquiry. The group is also urging the government to investigate attempts at coercion against the students’ relatives. The government must also search for other mass graves in the area where the students were last seen, provide sharper satellite images of the trash dump where it has centered its investigation, and protect the families of the disappeared students from being re-victimized, the group said. After the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights ordered Mexican authorities to conduct a thorough investigation of the disappearance, the government requested international assistance. The GIEI, comprised of three lawyers, one judge, and a doctor from Chile, Colombia, Guatemala, and Spain, was created in November. It released its second report on the case on Monday in Mexico City after going through almost 80,000 pages pertaining to the case docket and traveling to the town of Iguala in Guerrero Sate with surviving students to reconstruct the events leading to the abductions. The experts said they are analyzing a constitutional reform on forced disappearances that has been drafted by Mexico’s Congress. http://bzfd.it/1OBdLvq

Abuse in religious schools in Senegal

Human Rights Watch and the Platform for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights (PPDH) issued a statement on 20 April noting that Senegal has prosecuted only a handful of cases involving children who are trafficked and forced to beg by abusive teachers in religious schools despite a decade-old law outlawing the practice. Tens of thousands of children face rampant abuse and exploitation despite the 2005 law, the groups said. Social workers, government officials, and activists interviewed by Human Rights Watch in January 2015 said they believe the number of boys, known as talibé, enduring abuse in religious schools, which are not regulated, is increasing, with more and younger children affected. A 2014 government census of religious schools found over 30,000 boys subjected to forced begging in the Dakar region alone. http://bit.ly/1E11aQA

Forum on missing persons in Australia

The Independent News for The New South Wales Public Service reports today on remarks by New South Wales Attorney General Gabrielle Upton at a forum organized by the Families and Friends of Missing Persons Unit (FFMPU), established in 2000 within the Department of Justice, the only service in Australia specifically set up to provide specialized counselling, support and practical assistance to those affected by the loss of a missing person. “Every year, more than 35,000 people are reported missing in Australia,” she said. “While the majority are found within a short period of time, there are still 1,600 long-term missing – 650 of those are in New South Wales. Each one of those missing persons is someone’s loved one, someone’s family or friend. The subject of missing people and the impact on those left behind is rarely talked about. We need to clear up misconceptions in the community about who goes missing and why.” Since it began, the Unit has helped more than 2,500 family members and friends across New South Wales, nationally and internationally. FFMPU does not search for people. It works collaboratively with search Agencies to support those left behind. http://bit.ly/1bo5NKa

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.