Daily World News Digest, 31 August 2017

Day of the Disappeared: remembering victims of the Bosnian war – in pictures

Families are still searching for 12,000 missing relatives from the 1990s war in the western Balkans. Photographer Armin Smailovic followed one man, the only survivor of a 1992 massacre in which he lost his mother, brothers and sister. http://bit.ly/2vHCOLM

Spain: Archaeologists exhume civil war dead from mass graves

Spanish archaeologists have unearthed bodies from mass graves dating back to the 1936-1939 civil war. The bodies were exhumed from a local cemetery in Valladolid in central Spain where victim campaign volunteers aimed to bring closure for relatives still searching for family members. Four mass graves have been excavated at the site, and 228 bodies have been recovered there since April 2016. There are thought to be more than 2,000 mass burial sites across Spain dating back to the civil war. Historians estimate that 500,000 civilians were killed during this period. http://reut.rs/2wklnna

Search for the missing in Colombia must have participation of family members

The National Historical Memory Center in Columbia says there were more than 60,000 missing persons in the country as of 2016. The International Commission on Missing Persons began working in Colombia in 2008. ICMP Director Ruiz Verduzco explained ICMP’s priorities for victim discovery and identification, and stressed that victims and their legal rights should be the main consideration when carrying out this work. http://bit.ly/2xP6nLT (in Spanish)

Rise in extrajudicial killings in Egypt

Since US President Donald Trump’s visit to Egypt in May, Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sissi has taken steps to increase the arrest and enforced disappearance of political opponents, according to activists, victims and their families. July saw the reporting of 61 extrajudicial killings. Previous U.S administrations often used the $1.3 billion US military aid allocated to Egypt annually as leverage for democratic reform. President Obama even froze part of the aid for two years after President Sissi overthrew the elected Muslim Brotherhood government of Mohamed Morsi. The current US administration seeks a new relationship with the Middle east focused on combating terrorism. http://wapo.st/2gl4dfP

Mass murder of disappeared persons in Syria

In Syria tens of thousands of people are missing and detainees are tortured and killed in detention centers. Reports cite President Assad’s regime as responsible for the majority of disappearances, yet militia groups and jihadist extremists have also captured and detained people. The United Nations has accused the Syrian government of the murder, rape, torture and extermination of people kept in illegal detention in Syria, and witnesses have amassed evidence describing inhumane conditions, torture and the brutal deaths of victims. Shocking photographs have been smuggled out of Syria showing emaciated and disfigured bodies, of which more than 6,700 individuals are known to have died in government custody. http://bit.ly/2elcOyH

Tragic legacy of Philippines war on drugs

Thousands of people have been murdered following Philippines President Rodrigo Duerte’s war on drugs since last year. The Guardian newspaper has published a series of photographs that illustrate the individual stories of families who have lost family members. Most of those killed are men, which leaves families broken and sometimes without their sole source of household income. Many of those killed are residents of shanty towns and were born into poverty. http://bit.ly/2iJbsTj

International Day of the Disappeared commemorated in Balkans

Events to mark the International Day of the Disappeared in Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo and Serbia sought to raise awareness that 12,000 people are still missing from the 1990s wars. In Sarajevo and elsewhere in Bosnia & Herzegovina, missing persons’ relatives and local residents released black balloons bearing the names of the missing. Balloons were also released in Kosovo and in Pristina flowers were laid at a memorial dedicated to the missing. Today there are still 1,600 people missing as a result of the Kosovo conflict, which ended in 1999. In Serbia, relatives of missing persons and war victims walked to the monument in Tasmajdan Park in Belgrade commemorating those who died in Yugoslavia’s conflicts and laid flowers, as well as lighting candles in St. Mark’s Church. In Croatia, families of missing persons in the eastern city of Osijek laid flowers and lit candles at a common grave for victims of war at the city cemetery. http://bit.ly/2vsoPgu

Appeal to Thailand for action on enforced disappearances

The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), Thai Lawyers for Human Rights and the Cross Cultural Foundation sent an open letter to Thai Defense Minister Prawit Wongsuwan and Justice Suwapan Tanyu-wattana on Wednesday, using the occasion of the 2017 International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances, to express “serious concern at the ongoing delay in passing legislation aimed at protecting against torture, ill-treatment and enforced disappearance and the apparent lack of progress in investigating alleged enforced disappearances.” The letter notes that there have been at least 82 reported cases of enforced disappearance in Thailand since 1980. Civil society and human rights organizations have also reported on allegations of torture and ill-treatment perpetrated by security forces, particularly secret military detention after the May 2014 military coup and detention of suspected separatist insurgents in the Southern Border Provinces. http://bit.ly/2eHbxlQ

South Asian countries “must criminalize enforced disappearance”

On the occasion of the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) issued a 58-page report “No more missing persons: the criminalization of enforced disappearance in South Asia”, which analyzes states’ obligations to ensure that enforced disappearance constitutes a distinct crime under national law. The report provides an overview of enforced disappearance, focusing on India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal. For each state, the report briefly examines the national context in which enforced disappearances are reported, the existing legal framework, the role of the courts and the international commitments and responses to recommendations concerning criminalization. http://bit.ly/2gsgfrK

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.