Daily World News Digest, 26 June 2015

Odalovic: 1,654 Missing Persons Are Being Sought In Kosovo

InSerbia News reported on 25 June that A total of 1,654 missing persons – including 535 Serbs and other non-Albanians – are currently being sought in the territory of Kosovo-Metohija, the head of the Serbian government commission on missing persons, Veljko Odalovic, said on Thursday. “That is an enormous number, regardless of the fact that we have solved more than 1,700 cases so far,” Odalovic said on the 16th anniversary of the kidnapping and killing of over 50 Serb civilians in Metohija’s Istok municipality in June 1999. Speaking at an event commemorating the crime, Odalovic said that all locations in central Serbia have been examined during the search for ethnic Albanian victims. That is not the case in Kosovo-Metohija, because there is no equal readiness on the other (ethnic Albanian) side to search for Serb victims, Odalovic said. Natasa Scepanovic, the president of the association of the families of people kidnapped and murdered in Kosovo-Metohija, said that the crimes against Serbs were committed by ethnic Albanian terrorists in the wake of the NATO bombing and the arrival of international forces in Serbia’s southern province. http://bit.ly/1GMQPrF

Bosnian Serb leader: Srebrenica was 20th century’s ‘greatest deception’

Reuters reported yesterday that Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik called the 1995 Srebrenica massacre “the greatest deception of the 20th century” on Thursday in reaction to Swiss rejection of a Serbian extradition request for the Muslim wartime defender of the region. The remark appeared to be the strongest yet by Dodik casting doubt on what happened 20 years next month when Srebrenica fell to Bosnian Serb forces near the end of the 1992-95 war. More than 8,000 Muslim men and boys were executed in the days that followed, bulldozed into mass graves then dug up and reburied in a systematic bid to conceal the worst atrocity on European soil since World War Two. The divergence reflects the depth of division that continues to dog Bosnia and frustrates efforts to foster a sense of national unity. Dodik was reacting to an announcement by Swiss authorities that they would extradite Naser Oric, who led Muslim Bosniak forces in the Srebrenica region during the 1992-95 Bosnian war, to Bosnia, rather than Serbia, following his arrest two weeks ago in Switzerland. Serbia and the Bosnian Serbs say Oric’s men killed Serb civilians around Srebrenica earlier in the war, before its fall to Bosnian Serb forces. http://bit.ly/1KgwEXe

Switzerland to extradite Oric to Bosnia

b92 carried a story on 25 June saying that former commander of Muslim units in Srebrenica and former Hague indictee Naser Oric will be extradited to Bosnia-Herzegovina, as N1 is reporting. The decision was made under shortened procedure, the federal justice office of Switzerland has confirmed for this outlet. Oric was arrested in Switzerland on June 10 on a Serbian war crimes warrant. Serbia last week requested his extradition. The warrant was issued in 2014, on suspicion that Oric committed war crimes against Serb civilians in the Srebrenica area in 1992. Faculty of Law Professor Milan Skulic said earlier in the day that Bosnia’s motives to also request his extradition were “suspicions” – considering that Sarajevo only announced it was conducting an investigation after Serbia requested Oric’s extradition. “It seems that the motive of the Bosnian request is to prevent his extradition to Serbia,” commented Skulic. Oric’s legal representative Vasvija Vidovic told the Sarajevo-based daily Dnevni Avaz on Thursday that her client was “now a free man.” http://bit.ly/1GBm3yO

Syria: UN Security Council must not squander opportunity to save civilian lives

Amnesty International carried a story yesterday saying that Security Council members should use a meeting with NGOs at the United Nations on 26 June to agree upon steps they will take to enforce Security Council resolution 2139, which calls for an end to indiscriminate and direct attacks against civilians in Syria, said Amnesty International. The organization is urging the Security Council to impose an arms embargo on the Syrian government and targeted sanctions against individuals on all sides responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity. Such measures could help end barrel bomb and hell-canon attacks against civilians as well as any use of chlorine and other toxic chemicals as weapons. “A year and a half ago the Security Council made a commitment to take further steps if resolution 2139 was violated by parties to the conflict. The fact that indiscriminate attacks and other violations have continued unabated across Syria since then shows that it has been consistently and flagrantly flouted,” said Philip Luther, Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International. http://bit.ly/1FCO4oW

Côte d’Ivoire: Don’t Shut Down Investigations

Human Rights Watch reported on 25 June that Preemptively closing investigations into serious human rights violations during the 2010-2011 post-election crisis in Côte d’Ivoire would be a step backward in the fight against impunity, A Human Rights Watch and International Federation for Human Rights said today in a joint letter to President Alassane Ouattara. The letter, signed by 19 groups, was sent amid reports that the government has ordered the Special Investigative and Examination Cell, the body responsible for investigations into the post-election crisis, to finish its work in two key human rights cases by June 30, 2015. Ouattara created the special cell in June 2011. Sparked by the refusal of former President Laurent Gbagbo to cede power to Ouattara despite clear international consensus that Ouattara had won the December 2010 run-off election, attacks were carried out by fighters and others supporting both sides. At least 3,000 civilians were killed and more than 150 women were raped. http://bit.ly/1TPgoiE

Balochistan: MEP Marc Tarabella Urges EU to Take Action over Pakistani Human Rights Violations

UNPO reported yesterday that The Vice-chair of Parliament’s delegation for relations with South Asia and the ASEAN, Mr Marc Tarabella, has recently affirmed that the EU cannot remain silent over the abuses of the Pakistani Government against the Baloch people. The Baloch civil society and international NGOs have been targeted by the Government, to the extent that even personnel of international NGOs has been expelled from the country. This situation is not new: in 2005, the Pakistani interior minister admitted the abduction of 4000 Baloch, 2000 of which were killed. Unofficial sources estimate that over 20,000 people are missing. Mr Tarabella has recommended that the Pakistani Government respect its commitments and the human rights treaties it signed. He also urged the EU to take into account these violations also when discussing other matters with Pakistan. The European Union on its part cannot remain silent to what is happening in Balochistan. http://bit.ly/1Kf4hHl

PACE Adopts Resolution Urging Ukraine, Russia, Donbass To Help Locate Missing Persons

InSerbia News reports today that during the debate on Europe’s common response to the migration challenge, lawmakers of Council of Europe’s member states were divided between those who wanted to show solidarity with refugees, and others calling to stabilize the regions they come from. “According to UN officials, the war in Syria has unleashed the worst humanitarian crisis of our time. Turkey, a neighboring country, hosts two millions Syrians,” the rapporteur on the issue, Turkish lawmaker Reha Denemec said, Sputnik reported. He urged the international community to share the refugee burden. According to the lawmaker, Turkey spent more than $6 billion to accommodate Syrians in Turkey, though the contribution it received from the international community is $393 million. In the afternoon PACE adopted a resolution calling on Ukraine, Russia and local authorities in Donbass to strengthen efforts to locate people missing due to the conflict in eastern Ukraine. http://bit.ly/1LJ2PMa


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.