Daily World News Digest, 21 September 2015

Sri Lankan President asked to table all the reports on last phase of war immediately at UNHRC

ColomboPage, a news portal from Sri Lanka, reported on 21 September that a group of prominent foreign policy observers have asked Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena to immediately table all the reports on the final phase of the conflict at the ongoing UN Human Rights Council session in Geneva. A petition signed by the group has been handed over to the President requesting him to table the Report on the second Mandate of the Presidential Commission on Missing Persons and also the Udalagama Report immediately at the UNHRC. The group says they are very concerned about the mechanisms proposed in the Report of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) Investigation on Sri Lanka, which was presented to the in Geneva by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein on 16 September. The group says that the UNHRC conclusions had no opportunity to consider the rigorous legal and military analysis conducted by the Presidential Commission Investigating Cases of Missing Persons chaired by Maxwell Paranagama. Transparency is essential, and it is the duty and obligation of the Government to keep the UN Human Rights Council fully informed at the earliest opportunity possible. http://bit.ly/1YtwctK

Migrant crisis: Thirteen die in ferry collision off Turkey

BBC reported on 20 September that at least 13 migrants, including children, have died after their dinghy and a ferry collided off Turkey, the coastguard there says. The accident happened close to the port of Canakkale. The boat was on its way to the Greek island of Lesbos. Turkey’s coastguard said it had raised the alarm after being told that a commercial vessel and a migrant boat had collided off Canakkale. It said it had sent a helicopter and six rescue boats to the area. In a second incident, Greece’s coastguard said 26 people were feared missing from a boat, also off Lesbos. Eight people have been rescued, with one seriously injured. Some reports said four of the dead were children. In the second incident, Greece’s coastguard said it had rescued 22 people spotted in the water near Lesbos – but a further 26 people were feared missing. On Saturday, a five-year-old girl died and 13 people were feared missing after their boat also sank off Lesbos. Trips on makeshift craft between Turkey and Greek islands are frequent and dangerous for migrants, many of whom are fleeing conflict in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. Meanwhile thousands of migrants continue to cross borders in southern Europe, many now passing into Austria. http://bbc.in/1PfZ4PW

UN rights experts urge greater efforts to find disappeared persons

The Jurist, a legal news portal, carried a story on 20 September saying that The UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances on Friday urged countries to increase efforts to search for disappeared persons. Chairman of the group Ariel Dulitzky, in addressing the 47 members of the UN Human Rights Council, stated, “One person is probably being disappeared in one of your countries as we are talking.” Dulitzky also said that in many countries, governments have more information on the number of mobile phones there than on the number of disappeared persons. He noted that it is worrisome that the Working Group continues to receive daily cases of disappeared persons around the world. Dulitzky also visited the Western Balkans to present the Working Group’s reports on disappeared persons, following up visits to Mexico and Timor-Leste on the same topic. Lack of government efforts to search for disappeared persons continues to be a worldwide issue, including notable recent events in Mexico. In February the UN Committee on Enforced Disappearances published a report detailing concluding observations on the large number of recent disappearances in Mexico. The report indicated that authorities are often involved in enforcing the disappearances of its citizens. Amnesty International’s report on Mexico said 26,121 people were reported disappeared or missing between December 2006 and December 2012, but 40 percent of the cases were not investigated. http://bit.ly/1Ktu23N

Amnesty International again criticizes Mexican government for the missing students’ case

The Costa Rica Star news portal, carried a story on 20 September saying that Amnesty International once again slammed the Mexican government over its response to the chilling case of 43 teacher trainees who disappeared nearly a year ago, saying its claims that the remains of a second student have been identified, despite assertions to the contrary by forensic experts “reek of desperation.”The London-based human rights group pointed out on Friday that international forensic experts with the Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team said on Thursday night that tests conducted by Austria’s Innsbruck Medical University, allegedly identifying a piece of bone as belonging to student Jhosivani Guerrero de la Cruz, were inconclusive. Mexican authorities’ “baseless claims” about the latest positive ID appear to be a “cruel attempt to show they are taking action ahead of the one-year anniversary of the student’s enforced disappearance,” said Erika Guevara Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International. “It looks like they are willing to stop at nothing to wash their hands of any responsibility over one of Mexico’s most shocking human rights tragedies in recent history,” she added. Families of the missing and their supporters also reject Mexican authorities’ official account of the events of 26 September, 2014, in the southern city of Iguala, Guerrero state where the students disappeared. http://bit.ly/1QRlyrO

Mexico police capture cartel member connected to student disappearances

The Jurist, a legal news portal, reported on 18 September that Mexican authorities captured high-ranking drug cartel member Gildardo Lopez Astudillo Wednesday, alleging that he is connected to last year’s disappearance of 43 college students in Guerrero. National Security Commissioner Renato Sales Heredia confirmed the arrest of the suspect, who was found on the streets carrying a gun and false identification. Sales Heredia also stressed that the government will continue to investigate and take all necessary action to further determine the facts surrounding the disturbing disappearances. This arrest comes one week after UN human rights experts welcomed a report pertaining to the disappearance, torture and executions of the missing students, and two weeks after the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) called upon Mexico to address the failure of its investigation into the disappearance of 43 students from a teacher’s college in Ayotzinapa. While the problem of disappearances is widespread in Mexico, no particular case has drawn more attention than that of the Ayotzinapa students. One of the first major breakthroughs in the case occurred in mid-November when Jose Luis Abarca, a former Mayor of Iguala, was charged with homicide in the case. http://bit.ly/1iHYz7v

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.