Daily World News Digest, 28 July 2017

UN calls for action on enforced disappearances in Pakistan

Voice of America reports today that the UN Human Rights Committee has urged Pakistan to address human rights failings, including state-sponsored abductions. At a session of the Committee in Geneva on Thursday, concerns were expressed over Pakistan’s renewed use of the death penalty, its blasphemy laws, and enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings. Enforced disappearances, seen in tribal areas and Baluchistan for the past 15 years, have become widespread across Pakistan, committee member Olivier de Frouville told reporters. “This is an admitted fact, even within the country, that this is carried out by agents of the state,” he said, adding that the government’s own investigations were insufficient. http://bit.ly/2uHBCs5

Thirteen Migrants Found Dead in Rubber Dinghy

The Sun UK reported on 27 July that a rubber dinghy was intercepted 15 miles off the coast of Libya on 25 July by a Spanish rescue group, Proactiva Open Arms. 13 migrants, including pregnant women and children, were found dead, while 167 were rescued by the Spanish group. In a separate incident, a boat from the charity Save the Children came to the aid of some 90 migrants aboard a small boat, according to the Italian news agency ANSA. Both rescue operations off the coast of Libya were coordinated by the Italian coast guard. Moreover, Libya’s coastguard rescued an estimated 278 migrants including women and children on Monday off the shores of two different towns west of the capital Tripoli. As the Sun reports, Libya’s Tripoli-based government has asked Italy to provide naval support to fight human trafficking in its territorial waters. Italian Premier Paolo Gentiloni says sending Italian naval units to help Libya’s coast guard could be a “turning point” in combating migrant trafficking. http://bit.ly/2uGTlzO

Journalists in Myanmar held incommunicado

On Thursday, Amnesty International called on the Myanmar authorities to release three journalists who were arrested in conflict-ridden northern Shan State last month and who are due to go on trial today. The journalists were arrested on 26 June, along with four other people they were travelling with. They have since been charged under the Unlawful Association Act and could face up to three years in prison if convicted. “This is a clear attempt by the authorities to intimidate journalists and silence their critical coverage. It is exactly in northern Shan State and the other ethnic areas wracked by conflict, where appalling human rights abuses are rife, that independent journalism is needed the most,” said James Gomez, Amnesty International’s Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific. The journalists were held incommunicado in a secret location for two days after their arrest, before they were transferred to Hsipaw prison in northern Shan State where they are currently detained. http://bit.ly/2eQ0N7P

UN calls for movement on Cyprus missing persons issue

The Associated Press reported on 27 July that the UN Security Council unanimously approved a resolution Thursday encouraging rival Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots “to sustain their commitment” to reunifying the island following the collapse of talks earlier this month. The council welcomed progress made by leaders of the two communities and urged them to focus their efforts on reaching agreement on outstanding issues, saying “the status quo is unsustainable.” The Security Council resolution stressed the need for both sides to move forward on discussions of “military confidence-building measures.” It also called for renewed efforts to implement all remaining confidence-building measures “to build trust between the communities.” The Council noted that nearly half of all missing persons from the 1970s have yet to be located, and around 61.5 percent have not been identified. It called on all parties “to provide more expeditious, full access to all areas.” http://bit.ly/2v4AcKo

New “scent” technique helps find missing person

The Daily Telegraph reported on 27 July that police in Florida have tracked down a missing woman with dementia by using a sniffer dog to follow her scent, which had been bottled and preserved years earlier. Citrus County Sheriff’s Office said the elderly woman had used a specialist “scent preservation kit” in 2015. Its inventor said it was the first time his innovative system had been used successfully. The kit comprises a piece of sterilized gauze which is rubbed on a person’s underarm before being sealed inside a jar. http://bit.ly/2u3FqBO

Facial Recognition Tech to Aid in Search for Missing Persons

Findbiometrics.com has reported on Thursday that, Digital Barriers, a global lead company that specializes in visually intelligent solutions for global surveillance, security and safety markets, with zero-latency streaming and analysis of secure video and related intelligence over wireless networks, including cellular, satellite, IP mesh and cloud, has announced that it will provide its facial recognition technology at no cost to police and government authorities in the UK to aid in the search for missing persons. Just recently Digital Barriers launched facial recognition technology for police body cameras, enabling live scans in the field as police do their work. The system, called SmartVis Identifier, is based on the company’s EdgeVis platform, which essentially offered the same service through smartphone cameras. http://bit.ly/2eRvHg5

Missing Person and His Wife Sentenced to Prison

As reported by Khaosodenglish.com, a news portal from Thailand, a land-rights activist who is believed to have been forcibly disappeared over a year ago, and his wife who has campaigned to learn what happened to him, were sentenced to six months in jail in Chaiyaphum, a north-eastern province of Thailand. They were charged for trespassing on protected land six years ago. The wife of the missing activist will be imprisoned immediately. http://bit.ly/2v1A7qZ

Migrants regularly abused by Police in France

The New York Times brings a story on 27 July of allegations of routine police harassment in Calais, detailed in a report by Human Rights Watch, which was published on Wednesday. The report, which can be found at: http://bit.ly/2v3qU1D, details officers’ nearly daily use of pepper spray as well as limited access to food and the destruction of migrant shelters.

Human rights workers and around 60 migrants, nearly half under 18, told Human Rights Watch of daily identity checks, shortened hours for aid agencies to distribute food and unsanitary conditions caused by a lack of toilets and water. http://nyti.ms/2u2zcCc

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.