Daily World News Digest, 22 February 2017

More migrants drown off Libya

The Independent reported yesterday that more than 70 refugees have died in the latest boat disaster in the Mediterranean as deaths on the crossing between Libya and Italy reach record highs. The Libyan Red Crescent said the bodies of 74 migrants had washed ashore near the city of Zawiyah, which is a hub for smugglers launching boats towards Europe. Joel Millman from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said the boat’s engine was believed to have been removed at sea, possibly by smugglers or armed gangs. He said the incident could have resulted from the “deliberate punishment or murder of migrants”. http://ind.pn/2lho82S

Serbian army chief accused of Kosovo crimes

Balkan Insight reported yesterday that Belgrade’s Humanitarian Law Centre has released a documentary accusing the Chief of Staff of the Serbian Armed Forces, Ljubisa Dikovic, of involvement in war crimes in Kosovo and cover-up operations to hide the bodies. The new documentary, released by the Humanitarian Law Centre on Tuesday, alleges that approximately 1,400 civilians were killed in 1999 in an area of Kosovo which was under the control of the 37th Brigade of the Yugoslav Army, which at the time was headed by Ljubisa Dikovic. The HLC’s evidence reveals the role of the Yugoslav Army in the mass killings of Albanian civilians in Izbica, Cirez, Savarine, Rezala and other villages in the Drenica region. Some of the remains of a number of the victims were later discovered in mass graves in Serbia. http://bit.ly/2lC1h2W

Refugees sue Australian government over detention 

The Canary, a UK news portal, reported yesterday that hundreds of refugees are due to launch a class action against illegal detention by the Australian authorities. If successful, the judgment would set a precedent and send a signal to governments that they have a legal responsibility of care to all refugees and asylum seekers. The court case concerns hundreds of refugees detained by the Australian government on Manus Island, Papua New Guinea (PNG). The government has held some of them since 2012. Law firm Slater and Gordon says the case will be: “the largest trial concerning immigration detention” in legal history. And it could set a new precedent. http://bit.ly/2ltU5DN

Amnesty International criticizes human rights situation in Russia

The Russian news agency, Tass, reports today that Amnesty International has criticized the human rights situation in Russia. In its annual report, Amnesty cites amendments to the anti-extremism legislation of the Russian Federation, which, it says, violate international law. Amnesty also cites enforced disappearances and alleged extrajudicial executions. http://bit.ly/2kL3OIH 

Gambia: Police arrest former president’s spy chief 

Anadolu Agency reported yesterday that the Gambian police have arrested senior security officials including the former head of the National Intelligence Agency, an institution accused of carrying out enforced disappearances and killings under former President Yahya Jammeh. These are the first high-profile arrest of members of the previous regime. http://bit.ly/2mkLCll

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.