Daily World News Digest, 27 May 2015

EU to announce migrant quota plan details

The BBC reports today that the European Commission is to announce details of its controversial plans to relocate tens of thousands of migrants who have reached southern Europe from Africa and the Middle East. It is being reported that 40,000 asylum seekers would be spread across the EU countries through a quota system. The British government says that it will opt out of the relocation plans. The idea of using quotas to resettle those who have made it to Europe has caused controversy in some EU states. France, Spain, Hungary, Slovakia and Estonia have all voiced concerns. The quota plan is in addition to moves announced earlier this month by the EU for a voluntary scheme to settle 20,000 people fleeing conflict who are currently living outside the EU. More than 1,800 migrants have died in the Mediterranean in 2015 – a 20-fold increase on the same period in 2014. Some 60,000 people have already tried to make the perilous crossing this year, the UN estimates. Many are trying to escape conflict or poverty in countries such as Syria, Eritrea, Nigeria and Somalia. http://bbc.in/1FCD9Px

Gambia: Dozens Held Incommunicado, ‘Disappeared’

Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International issued a statement today saying that Gambian authorities have detained incommunicado dozens of friends and relatives of people accused of involvement in a coup attempt since January 2015, depriving them of all contact with the outside world. Those detained include women, elderly people, and a child, and many are believed to be in ill-health. The government has refused to acknowledge the whereabouts or even the detention of many of them, effectively holding them outside the protection of the law. “This amounts to enforced disappearance, a serious violation of international law. The Gambian government should urgently reveal their whereabouts and either charge them with a recognizable offense if there is sufficient evidence or immediately release them,” the statement said. http://bit.ly/1FObv3k

Southeast Asia: Accounts from Rohingya Boat People

Human Rights Watch reports today that Rohingya and other survivors of dangerous boat voyages from Burma and Bangladesh have described horrific treatment by unscrupulous smugglers and traffickers in Burma, and abuse and neglect aboard ships. A regional meeting scheduled for 29 May in Bangkok must find solutions to the so-called boat people exodus, HRW says. Rohingya have described enduring two months at sea, packed below decks in cramped conditions with limited food and water and very poor sanitation. Boats carrying approximately 100 mostly Rohingya men and women each abandoned passengers at an undisclosed location along Thailand’s coast, leaving them to fend for themselves until they were found by the Thai authorities. According to international agencies, 3,000 to 4,000 people may still be aboard ships at sea. http://bit.ly/1PM2Wwr

Palestine: Abductions, torture and summary killings

Amnesty International issued a report on 26 May stating that Hamas forces in Gaza committed serious human rights abuses, including abductions, torture and summary and extrajudicial executions with impunity during the 2014 Gaza/Israel conflict. To date, no one has been held to account for committing these unlawful killings and other abuses, either by the Hamas de facto administration that continues to control Gaza and its security and judicial institutions, or by the Palestinian “national consensus” government that has had nominal authority over Gaza since June 2014, Amnesty says. http://bit.ly/1HKDNez

Using technology to end impunity for mass atrocities, including rape

The International Justice Monitor website featured a comment from Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) on 26 May noting that the International Criminal Court (ICC) has convicted Germain Katanga of aiding a 2003 attack on civilians in Bogoro, a village in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. Grave human rights violations were perpetrated in Bogoro, including the murder of 200 civilians in a matter of hours and the rape and sexual enslavement of women and girls. Katanga was found guilty as an accessory to one crime against humanity and four war crimes. The charges also included rape and sexual slavery, representing the first time that the ICC has charged a defendant with sexual violence crimes, a very significant step forward in the fight against such violations. PHR notes that it has recognized the growing need and use of technology to capture forensic medical evidence, and is developing MediCapt, a mobile application that health care workers can use to digitize standard medical information while conducting a medical exam on a sexual violence survivor. Health care workers can also take forensic photographs and create a record of sexual violence that can be uploaded to secure data cloud storage and preserved for future use. MediCapt also has a corresponding web application that affords law enforcement, lawyers, and judges access to the records. Significantly, MediCapt is being developed so that chain of custody is preserved and the highest security is maintained so that these records can one day be used in a court of law. http://bit.ly/1HuaHgQ

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.