Daily World News Digest, 22 January 2016

Sri Lanka president wants “internal” war crimes court

The BBC reported on 21 January that the president of Sri Lanka has said foreign judges and prosecutors should not be involved in an investigation into allegations of war crimes. President Maithripala Sirisena said the country did not need to “import” specialists. Both the army and the Tamil Tiger rebels are accused of atrocities in the civil war that ended in 2009. The government previously backed a UN resolution calling for a war crimes court supported by foreign judges. The president also dismissed reports from the advocacy group Freedom from Torture that people in detention were still being tortured. http://bbc.in/1WzZZPk

Three Al Jazeera journalists kidnapped in Yemen

Doha News, a daily news website, reported today that three members of an Al Jazeera Arabic news crew have been kidnapped in Yemen, the news channel said in a statement last night as it called for their immediate release. Al Jazeera crew members were covering events in the besieged city of Taiz just before they went missing. They were last seen on 18 January. Taiz, the country’s second most populated city, is officially controlled by the Yemeni government and troops loyal to the exiled Yemeni president Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi, but for months has been under siege by Iran-backed Houthi soldiers. http://bit.ly/1Psc4jG

UN: Slaughter of civilians, sexual slavery and disappearances among crimes in South Sudan

UN News Center issued a news on 21 January saying that hundreds of extra-judicial killings, enforced disappearances, gang-rapes, sexual slavery, forced abortion, massive child soldier recruitment and indiscriminate attacks against civilians with entire villages burned down have been perpetrated by all in sides in war-torn South Sudan. According to the report, there are at least 13,000 – 15,000 child soldiers recruited mainly, but not solely, by opposition forces, as of December 2015. “Despite the severity of the human rights and humanitarian law violations perpetrated by both sides to the conflict, there are no tangible accountability mechanisms beyond the rhetoric of the main belligerents,” the report stressed. http://bit.ly/1nqgEsQ

Former FARC rebels get reprieve, families of disappeared get closure

The City Paper Bogota reported on 21 January that in a ceremony Thursday Colombia’s High Commissioner of Peace, Sergio Jaramillo met with family members of 29 persons who disappeared during the country’s armed conflict. The senior negotiator of the peace talks taking place in Havana, Cuba, between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) handed out white roses as the remains of those who disappeared were returned to their families. Meanwhile, in a unilateral gesture in the country’s capital, the national government pardoned 16 FARC rebels. Those who were pardoned have agreed not to return to the ranks of FARC but rather begin their arduous process of reintegration back into civilian life. http://bit.ly/1nd4hjb

Five years after the Arab Spring, this is what it’s like working as a human rights campaigner in Egypt

The Independent carried a story on 21 January saying that on 9 January, Dr Ahmed Abdullah, chair of the board of the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms, narrowly escaped an attempt by security agents to abduct him at a coffee shop in Giza. This incident took place following a spate of arrests of political activists in the past few weeks. The Egyptian judiciary seem unable or unwilling to stop grave violations such as enforced disappearances, torture and death in custody. Dr Abdullah’s organization, Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms, is at the forefront of the call for an end to enforced disappearances in Egypt. It provides support to families of the disappeared including legal aid. http://ind.pn/1WxZNA7

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.