Daily World News Digest, 22 June 2015

World Refugee Day: Governments, not smugglers, are the real problem

Amnesty International carried a story on 20 June saying that the global refugee situation has not been this dire since the end World War Two. The crisis in Syria is the biggest humanitarian catastrophe of our time, it said, with four million refugees struggling to survive in neighboring countries and another 7.6 million people displaced within its borders. Less publicized conflicts are also devastating; three million refugees are fleeing human rights abuses in South Sudan, Nigeria, Burundi and other parts of sub-Saharan Africa. http://bit.ly/1LoP0FG

Iraq: Don’t facilitate death penalty

Human Rights Watch issued a statement today arguing that Iraq’s parliament should turn down a proposal to allow the justice minister, rather than the president, to ratify execution orders. It said criminal procedures in Iraqi courts, including in death penalty cases, fall short of international fair trial standards. The proposed change, which Iraq’s cabinet approved on 16 June, would no longer require the president to ratify executions. Instead, the justice minister could ratify the sentence if the president didn’t act within 30 days of a final Court of Cassation verdict to ratify the sentence, issue clemency or a pardon, or commute the sentence. Iraq’s criminal justice system, and in particular its counterterrorism law, is highly problematic, Amnesty said. The counterterrorism law of 2005 mandates the death penalty for vague and not necessarily lethal acts, such as “threats which aim to bring about fear among people.” Iraq’s constitution also prohibits clemency or a pardon in terrorism cases, in violation of international human rights norms that grant a person sentenced to death the right to seek clemency, pardon, or commutation of sentence at any time. Iraqi law imposes the death penalty for 48 crimes, including for human trafficking and several that fall well outside of the international standard that limits the death penalty in countries that retain it to “the most serious crimes.” http://bit.ly/1I8Ts9w

Mexico, a death-trap for migrants

Amnesty International carried a story on 19 June saying that every year, thousands of Central American migrants make the long and risky journey through Mexico to the US in the desperate hope of finding a new life or escaping violence in their home countries. For many, the voyage is a death-trap with scores falling prey to violent criminal gangs and some going missing without a trace. Every year, thousands of men, women and children who take the perilous journey through Mexico to the US are robbed, attacked, abducted, tortured and even killed by violent criminal gangs who operate along the migrant route, often working in collusion with local authorities. Many other migrants simply “disappear” with their relatives back home unable to even look for them as they lack the resources or papers to travel to Mexico. According to official figures reported in the media obtained through freedom of information requests from the National Institute of Migration (INM), between 2013 and 2014, abductions of migrants increased tenfold, with 62 complaints registered in 2013 and 682 in 2014. These figures are only the tip of the iceberg, as many cases are not reported at all. Many migrants decide not to present a complaint for fear of reprisals or deportation. http://bit.ly/1eCLVEw

Serbia officially requests Oric’s extradition

b92 reported today that Serbia has officially requested the extradition of the former commander of the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Srebrenica, Naser Oric. Oric was arrested as he was traveling to Switzerland where he was to attend the marking of the 20th anniversary of the Srebrenica genocide. The Interpol office in Serbia issued a warrant for his arrest in February 2014 on grounds that the Serbian Prosecutor for War Crimes suspects Oric committed crimes against Serbs in the Drina Valley in 1992. http://bit.ly/1daS6OC

Serbian PM “ready to attend” Srebrenica anniversary

Balkan Insight reported on 19 June that Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic has said he is ready to pay tribute at the 20th anniversary commemoration of the massacres but does not support a UN resolution condemning the massacares as genocide. Vucic said on Friday that he would be willing to join the commemoration on 11 July at the memorial to more than 7,000 Bosniak men and boys from Srebrenica who were massacred by Bosnian Serb forces in 1995. http://bit.ly/1daSyfO

Slovenia releases former Kosovo prime minister

Reuters carried a story on 19 June saying that former Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj has diplomatic immunity and can return home from Slovenia after being detained there on a Serbian war crimes warrant this week, a court ruled on Friday. Haradinaj, an opposition political leader and former guerrilla commander during Kosovo’s 1998-99 war, had been ordered to remain in Slovenia until a court ruled on his case. Haradinaj, who was prime minister of Kosovo in 2004-05, was tried and acquitted twice of war crimes at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. http://reut.rs/1Cnd9UX

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.