Daily World News Digest, 23 February 2016

Colombia speeds up move to identify 28,000 bodies found dumped in unmarked graves

The Guardian carried a story today saying that Colombia is intensifying efforts to identify about 28,000 victims of the country’s civil war whose bodies were dumped in unmarked graves. In the coming weeks, judicial authorities will visit seven towns hit by decades of fighting and take testimony and blood samples from local residents to help forensic teams identify bodies. The chief prosecutor’s office said on Monday that over five years they have identified 897 of 1,017 bodies exhumed from unmarked graves in public cemeteries. http://bit.ly/1RYc4xY

Vietnam to undertake DNA identification project for war victims

Enterprise Innovation, a business publication from Asia, carried a story today saying that the government of Vietnam has signed a contract with SMART Research BV for the provision of the Bonaparte DNA matching software system and associated support services. The procurement is part of a 10-year project that aims to identify at least 80,000 of the 650,000 unidentified victims from the Vietnam War. Three laboratories will be upgraded with latest forensic technology while consultancy and training are provided by BioGlobe and The International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) in Bosnia. http://bit.ly/1QuOa7G

Remains of 6 victims of paramilitary massacre found in Colombia

Telesur news portal reported on 22 February that remains of six people killed in a massacre by Colombian right-wing paramilitary forces in the late 1990’s have been found in western department of Choco, Colombian authorities announced on Monday.  The victims were killed between 1997 and 1998 by the Peasant Self-Defense Forces of Cordoba and Uraba known as ACCU. According to officials, investigators uncovered the bodies in a jungle area and the remains are thought to belong to victims of a massacre Pavarando, a village own on the border with the neighboring department of Antioquia. http://bit.ly/1QdKtYj

UN inquiry: Syria government, IS commit crimes against humanity

Reuters reported on 22 February that war crimes in Syria’s five-year-old conflict are widespread and Syrian government forces and Islamic State militants continue to commit crimes against humanity in the face of inaction by the international community, an UN-backed panel said. “Flagrant violations of human rights and international humanitarian law continue unabated, aggravated by blatant impunity,” the UN Independent International Commission of Inquiry said in its latest report. The commission urged the 15-nation Security Council to refer the conflict in Syria to the International Criminal Court in The Hague or an ad hoc war crimes tribunal to ensure justice. http://reut.rs/1oEsYGB

Information on missing in Cyprus to be probed

In-Cyprus news portal reported on 22 February that the Government will thoroughly probe information given by a Turkish Cypriot to Greek Cypriot newspaper Politis, with regards the remains of Greek Cypriot missing persons thought to have been relocated to a site in the occupied village of Assia in the early 1990s. Committee on Missing Persons (CMP) Greek Cypriot member Nestoras Nestoros said that the process of confirming the information would begin soon. Nestoros said he, accompanied by a Politis reporter, would visit the site where the remains are thought to have been transferred, as soon as possible. http://bit.ly/1VB5yfw

Tajikistan silencing and disappearing opposition abroad

Transitions Online, an online journal, carried a story on 22 February saying that the Tajik government is arresting, imprisoning, and torturing members of the country’s peaceful political opposition according to Human Rights Watch and the Norwegian Helsinki Committee. The human rights situation has worsened dramatically in the past year since the ban on Tajikistan’s leading opposition party, the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan, and killing of opposition figure Umarali Quvatov. “In addition to Quvatov’s killing, another activist, Maksud Ibragimov, was stabbed, forcibly disappeared in Russia, returned to Tajikistan, and sentenced to 17 years in prison,” HRW and NHC said, citing dozens of similar cases, partly based on interviews with dozens of political activists and their relatives in Tajikistan and abroad. http://bit.ly/1RYos0P

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.