Daily World News Digest, 23 October 2015

Enforced disappearances are not an issue of the past

Prothom Alo, a daily from Bangladesh, reported today that the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances has called on states to put on the top of their agenda the eradication of enforced disappearances. It also urged governments to address the changing nature of the problem due to new patterns of enforced disappearance, the growing activity of non-state actors and new types of victims. “We can’t pretend anymore it is just an issue of the past. Enforced disappearances continue to occur while we speak,” the Vice-chair of the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, Bernard Duhaime, told the UN General Assembly on Wednesday. The group said that disappearances have to be recognized as a modern-day issue in order to develop effective measures for its eradication. Since the beginning of the year, they have been working on 150 cases of enforced disappearance.  http://bit.ly/1OVGCxT

The secret mass graves of the refugee crisis

Medium news portal, carried a story on 22 October saying that more than 20,000 people have died in the sea since undocumented migration across the Mediterranean first escalated to crisis levels in the mid-1990s. Despite search and rescue operations such as Mare Nostrum and Triton, there continue to be thousands of deaths. Families of the refugees who are missing ask how is it possible that they simply disappear, without leaving any sign. Fouad Gammoudi, the head of the Médecins Sans Frontières mission for Tunisia and Libya runs programs on how to conduct and assist with rescues and manage corpses. “Something as small as what’s written on the pants, any sign if it’s a man or a woman, can sometimes identify a person,” Gammoudi said. He added that in 2014, there was no identification or body management process. State authorities are not interested in taking responsibility for handling the bodies, so the task falls to the local authorities. Without access to a recognized place to bury them, the corpses are dumped into a municipal garbage truck and taken directly to a plot of unused land. “There are, however, efforts to resolve the issue. A lab at the University of Milan is building a database of DNA and other evidence from incidents in the Mediterranean with the aim of tracking down and identifying missing refugees. http://bit.ly/1W8HKUx

Iraqi security forces beat and abduct protesters

Human Rights Watch carried a story today saying that Iraqi security forces have repeatedly beaten and violently dispersed protesters during anti-corruption demonstrations since August 2015 without any apparent justification. In some instances, unidentified men in civilian clothes abducted and beat demonstrators. Prosecutors have failed to respond to judicial complaints lodged by victims of these attacks. “Men claiming to be intelligence officers are attacking and abducting peaceful demonstrators and prosecutors don’t investigate,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director. On 18 September, three groups of men in civilian clothes grabbed, beat, and carried off three activists after they left a demonstration in Tahrir Square in Baghdad. The activists told Human Rights Watch they were taken to a building where they were beaten and interrogated. After about an hour, the interrogator made all three sign a pledge not to demonstrate again and threatened to abduct, torture, and kill them if they spoke to the media. http://bit.ly/1RrHAkq

Feature story

http://to.pbs.org/1M1Srxi

How the children of Argentina’s ‘’disappeared’’ are being reunited with their birth families

PBS broadcasted an interview with the families of the disappeared in Argentina on 19 October. There are 30,000 people who disappeared during the military dictatorship in Argentina, from 1976 to 1983. The story especially deals with the fate of the women and their babies who were given to couples deemed sympathetic to the regime and their struggle in finding their children and grandchildren.

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.