Daily World News Digest, 4 November 2016

Hundreds of migrants drowned off Libya

BBC News reported yesterday that more than 200 migrants are believed to have drowned in two shipwrecks off the coast of Libya. The UN refugee agency was told the news by survivors brought ashore on the Italian island of Lampedusa, spokeswoman Carlotta Sami said. Twelve bodies have been recovered. More than 4,200 migrants have died making the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean this year, International Organization of Migration spokesman Leonard Doyle says. The UN has warned that 2016 could be the deadliest for migrants making the journey. Nearly 330,000 migrants have crossed the sea so far this year, compared with more than one million in 2015. Many of those killed in the latest two incidents are believed to be migrants from West Africa. Ms Sami said a dinghy – which was reportedly carrying about 140 people including six children and about 20 women, some of them pregnant – capsized 25 miles (40km) off the Libyan coast. Twenty-nine people were rescued, she said, and 12 bodies were recovered. In a separate rescue operation, two women found swimming at sea told rescuers that 128 other people had died in their wreck.  The UN says. Italy has seen an increase in the trafficking of migrants from Libya ever since an EU-Turkey agreement to halt migrants travelling to the Greek islands came into force in March. http://bbc.in/2erdqU5

Migrant children in France at risk of going missing

The Daily Mail reported today that children bussed from the Calais “Jungle” to temporary accommodation centers in France are at serious risk of going missing before their asylum claims are processed, according to Save the Children. Some 1,616 young migrants and refugees were transferred by bus to 60 centers across the country on Wednesday as part of the Home Office-supported operation to clear the camp. The charity’s government relations adviser Dorothy Sang told the Press Association: “We are really pleased that our children are out of danger and are now in proper, safe accommodation. What we are concerned about now is they will still pose a flight risk. Efforts need to be concentrated on providing these children with enough information about what the process is and what will be happening to them next.” She said the 11-day operation to clear the Calais settlement had “endangered children primarily through the lack of clear and concise information”. It was impossible to tell exactly how many children fled the camp last week as it was destroyed by bulldozers and raging fires. Ms Sang said the lack of protection indicated lessons had not been learned since Europol’s stark announcement in early 2016 that around 10,000 unaccompanied children had gone missing since arriving on the continent. http://dailym.ai/2flr1Mb

Call for probe into Thai human rights lawyer’s disappearance to continue

The Bangkok Post carried an article yesterday about the wife of human rights lawyer Somchai Neelapaijit, who on Thursday criticized the suspension of an investigation into his disappearance on the grounds that no culprits had been found. Angkhana Neelapaijit submitted a letter to Pol Col Paisit Wongmuang, director-general of the Department of Special Investigation, to oppose a special cases committee resolution on 5 October. The DSI informed Mrs Angkhana of the suspension resolution in a letter after 11 years and nine months of investigation, saying no new evidence and suspects had come to light. Pol Col Paisit earlier said investigators had examined all the evidence including sites where Mr Somchai’s body was allegedly disposed of by burning. The remains were retrieved for forensic examination but specialists could not identify the body because of the poor sample quality. Mrs Angkhana argued there was no statute of limitations on enforced disappearance and the state was duty-bound to find Mr Somchai, according to International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance. “The case of enforced disappearance is not a normal criminal offence. It’s a murder case without a body because the culprits have destroyed and concealed the body” Mrs Angkhana noted. http://bit.ly/2euxMMv
African Union urged to draft statute for South Sudan hybrid court

Jurist.org, a legal news website, reported yesterday that several South Sudanese organizations co-authored a letter that was sent to the African Union Commission (AUC) on Tuesday concerning the creation of the Hybrid Court for South Sudan. The letter asks Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Chairperson of the AUC, to draft a statute ensuring that the court is enacted through appropriate channels and also to establish a method to preserve evidence. The letter asks that the AUC gather input from experts in the field as a method of determining jurisdiction, witness protection programs, and public outreach, among other things. The letter was signed by 34 organizations. Earlier this year Human Rights Watch urged the African Union to establish a hybrid court to prosecute members of the South Sudan government for war crimes committed in the Western Equatoria region. HRW said there is evidence that killings, rapes and enforced disappearances have been committed against civilians in the region and that some of the targeting may have been ethnically motivated in a counterinsurgency operation against rebel forces. http://bit.ly/2fiEw17

UN renews call to counter disappearances of journalists

The Philippine Star published an article today on a UN warning that crimes against journalists are rampant all over the world. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon issued the warning during the observance of International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists. In the past 10 years, 827 journalists have been killed, with only eight percent of perpetrators held accountable, the UN reported. Forty percent of these cases are considered “ongoing,” meaning that either a police or judicial inquiry is still underway or the cases have been archived or deemed to be unresolved. The figures do not include journalists who, on a daily basis, suffer from non-fatal attacks such as torture, enforced disappearances, arbitrary detention, intimidation and harassment in both conflict and non-conflict situations. UNESCO also cited specific risks faced by women journalists such as sexual attacks. http://bit.ly/2fKh9y3

Unmarked grave holds post-WWII execution victims in Belgrade

Balkan Insight carries an article today about Lisiciji Potok, a dell in the middle of Belgrade’s elite district of Dedinje, which could be the site of the biggest mass grave in the Serbian capital, where hundreds of people were shot dead after World War II, according to some historians. “My father is probably here. He was a medic in the military hospital, which was run by occupation [German] forces and [Nazi collaborator and Serbian Prime Minister Milan] Nedic’s regime. A couple of days after the liberation of Belgrade, the [Communist] Partisans came for him,” Slobodan Djuric, president of the Belgrade-based Association of Political Prisoners, told BIRN. Historian Srdjan Cvetkovic is the former secretary of the state commission for finding the graves of those killed at the height of repressive Communist rule, which lasted from the end of the war until 1953. He pointed out that there are numerous testimonies that Lisiciji Potok was a mass grave, accounts which have even been verified by people involved in the killings. But he said that exhuming victims’ remains was not the most important thing. “Our goal is not to go all over Serbia and dig up old graves; it is hard to identify the people who were shot. Our goal is just to maintain the culture of memory, to mark those places where people were shot and buried. We want to maintain the memory of the time that a Stalinist regime was introduced in Serbia,” he said. Cvetkovic also pointed out that although decades have passed, there are still no monuments in Serbia to the victims of the Communist regime. http://bit.ly/2fnSElS

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.