Daily World News Digest, 26 August 2015

Migrant deaths in the Mediterranean reach 2,373 in 2015

The International Organization for Migration reports today that deaths of all migrants and refugees attempting to reach Europe by sea in 2015 now total 2,373. The death toll recorded on the same date in 2014 was 2,081. Over the last 365 days, IOM has recorded 3,573 migrants who died attempting to reach Italy, Greece and Spain by sea – an average of nearly ten deaths per day. Four more people were reported lost at sea in the area – three of them believed to be Iraqi men in their late teens, and the fourth a Turkish national, who may have been working as a smuggler. IOM is concerned that as summer turns to autumn and then winter, additional deaths at sea could well surpass 2,000 through the final third of this year. http://bit.ly/1LzPU2V

Indian Supreme Court calls for action plan on trafficking

The New Indian Express reported on 25 August that the Supreme Court today called for an action plan on preventing trafficking of girls for sexual exploitation and on rescuing and rehabilitating victims. It asked the government to discuss the report of the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) on prevention, rescue and rehabilitation of the victims of trafficking for commercial and sexual exploitation. The report recommends that an organized crime investigation agency be set up to investigate cases of human trafficking and organized crime. The NALSA has also recommended creation of “comprehensive source of data on missing and trafficked persons”. http://bit.ly/1LzSzcP

Guatemala court ruling highlights flaws in justice system

Amnesty International issued a statement on 25 August saying that a Guatemalan court’s decision to try former Guatemalan President Efraín Ríos Montt on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity through a lawyer and behind closed doors opens a new avenue for justice but highlights the deep flaws of the country’s justice system, which has so far failed to bring justice to his victims. “Today’s ruling clearly shows that when justice is delayed for so long, there is a very high risk that those responsible for crimes such as mass killings and disappearances will be able to get away with it,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International. A UN-backed truth commission found that some 200,000 people were killed or disappeared during Guatemala’s 36-year civil war (1960-1996). Despite recent efforts to strengthen justice and accountability for past abuses, the army has refused to provide information to investigations into killings, enforced disappearances, rape and other crimes of sexual violence and other crimes committed during the conflict. http://bit.ly/1MMwiHy

Indonesian Missing Persons Commission highlights police violence

The Jakarta Post carried a story on 25 August saying that the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) reported on Monday that from May to August it received several reports of extreme violence perpetrated by officers of the National Police against criminal suspects. According to the Commission’s Advocacy Department Deputy Coordinator Yati Andriyani, the violence occurred during questioning sessions. Seven persons died and 16 were severely injured after being questioned by the police. Yati also called on human rights watchdogs such as the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM), the Indonesian Child Protection Commission (KPAI) and the National Police Commission (Kompolnas) to be more active in monitoring police officers. http://bit.ly/1i0Trui

UN calls for government investigation of Bangladesh disappearances

The New Age daily newspaper from Bangladesh, carried a story on 26 August saying that the United Nations Working Group on Enforced Disappearances has asked the Bangladesh government to undertake investigations into eight men allegedly picked up by the Rapid Action Battalion in December 2013 and whose whereabouts remain unknown. The letter was sent on 3 July 3 and according to an official based at the UN Working Group in Geneva, the request was addressed to Bangladesh’s permanent UN Mission in Geneva. The eight men were among 19 people, almost all of them activists of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party or its affiliated organizations. The UN Working Group will discuss the issue in September. http://bit.ly/1i0Trui

Serbia and Kosovo take step toward reconciliation

The Wall Street Journal reported on 25 August that Serbia and Kosovo took another step toward reconciliation on Tuesday with a deal that, among other things, will allow Kosovars to have their own country code. In another step toward reconciliation, Kosovo’s parliament this month approved the establishment of a special court to investigate alleged war crimes carried out by the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), the paramilitary force that led the fight for Kosovar independence. An EU task force last year said there was enough evidence to prosecute senior members of the KLA on charges including unlawful killings, abductions, illegal detention camps, sexual violence and desecration of churches. Former Prime Minister and current Foreign Minister Hashim Thaci, who transformed the KLA militia into an established political party, said in the interview that he backs this court. Previous attempts at KLA prosecutions failed due to intimidation of witnesses as well as disappearances and suspicious suicides. http://on.wsj.com/1LzWKW4

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.