Daily World News Digest, 31 March 2017

Tackling disappearances in Syria through international law

News Deeply, a New York-based news and social enterprise portal, yesterday published an in-depth analysis of the first criminal case against Syrian officials to be accepted in a foreign court, and the impact it will have on bringing perpetrators of abuse in Syria to justice. On Monday, a Spanish judge ordered an investigation into allegations that Syrian government officials committed state terrorism – a case that international lawyers Almudena Bernabeu and Maite Parejo have been building since 2016. This is the first criminal case against Syrian president Bashar al-Assad’s government to be accepted in a Western court. Bernabeu, Parejo and their colleagues at Guernica 37 International Chambers argued that the laws of universal jurisdiction permit Spain’s national court to prosecute nine Syrian government officials allegedly linked to the disappearance and death of Abdulmuemen Alhaj Hamdo. The Syrian truck driver was detained in early 2013 and allegedly tortured and killed in Branch 248, a government-run detention center in Damascus. http://bit.ly/2ofHjfS

Authorities in Sri Lanka struggle to implement transitional justice commitments

The Daily Mirror from Sri Lanka, publishes a column today examining the Sri Lanka government’s efforts to comply with its commitment to institute a transitional justice system that would include the participation of international judges in war crimes trials, and its efforts to shore up support among competing interests in a complex domestic coalition. The article notes that “last week the Government cosponsored another resolution on Sri Lanka at the United Nations Human Rights Council as it did in 2015. This year’s resolution was nothing but a move to give two more years to the Government to implement the commitments of the 2015 resolution,” adding that “establishing a special court with foreign judges among others, was the major recommendation that had been made in the 2015 resolution.” http://bit.ly/2oFJDtc

‘Morong 43′ generals want charges dropped on technicality

Rappler, a news portal from the Philippines, reports today that torture charges against military and police officers in the case of 43 health workers who were arrested in 2010 in the town of Morong, near Manila, on grounds of illegal possession of firearms and explosives have been dismissed, but they still face charges before the special appellate court for the illegal detention of the 43 health workers suspected to be rebels. However, the court has postponed the arraignment of army generals and police officers involved in order to hear a motion to dismiss based on technical flaws. http://bit.ly/2ohVBx5

Congo to investigate deaths of UN staff

The Washington Post reported yesterday that the Democratic Republic of Congo’s government has said it will investigate the deaths of an American and a Swedish expert for the United Nations and their interpreter, whose bodies were found in a shallow grave on Monday after the team disappeared more than two weeks ago. Sweden said it was opening a murder investigation, and the UN Security Council strongly condemned the killings. It was the first recorded disappearance of international workers in the once-calm Kasai provinces, where the Kamwina Nsapu militia has been fighting security forces since last year. The UN says more than 400 people have been killed and more than 200,000 displaced since government troops killed the militia’s leader in August. http://wapo.st/2oo065Q

UN to scale back DR Congo peacekeeping force

The Independent Uganda reports today that the UN Security Council will vote Friday to cut the number of troops in its peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo. US ambassador Nikki Haley said the currently authorized force strength of 19,815 would be cut by 3,600 — but that 3,100 of these places are already unfilled. http://bit.ly/2nRoWgT

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.