Daily World News Digest, 8 December 2015

Bodies discovered in northeast Kenya

The BBC reported on 7 December that at least 20 bodies have been discovered in northeast Kenya buried in shallow graves. They were found by a herder looking for his animals, who noticed signs of wild jackals in the area near the Somali border. Kenya’s security forces deny charges they have been killing ethnic Somalis. The residents of ethnic Somali-dominated districts in the region have repeatedly accused Kenya’s security agencies of being behind the arrest and disappearance of youths suspected of having links with the Somali militant Islamist group al-Shabab. A local politician suggested the dead were victims of enforced disappearances. http://bbc.in/1TxHl8y

Activists call for release of Lao student leaders

The International Federation of Human Rights Organizations (FIDH) issued a statement today calling on the Lao government immediately and unconditionally to release two former pro-democracy student leaders who have been arbitrarily detained for more than 16 years and disclose the fate or whereabouts of two others. It said Thongpaseuth Keuakoun and Sengaloun Phengphanh, two former student leaders with the Lao Students Movement for Democracy (LSMD), remain detained in Samkhe prison on the eastern outskirts of Vientiane. They were arrested in Vientiane on 26 October 1999, along with fellow LSMD members Bouavanh Chanhmanivong, Khamphouvieng Sisa-at, and Keochay. All five were subsequently sentenced to 20 years in prison for “generating social turmoil and endangering national security.” The government, however, denied that it had detained Bouavanh, Khamphouvieng, and Keochay. In 2006, the government stated that Keochay had been released in 2002 upon completion of his prison term and “transferred to guardians to further educate him to become a good citizen.” However, Keochay’s family has never been informed about his alleged release and his fate or whereabouts remain unknown. http://bit.ly/1RBam4K

Human rights sidelined in Philippines presidential race: Amnesty

The Associated Press reported today that Presidential candidates in the Philippines have ignored human rights in their campaigns despite the violence that plagues the country, according to Amnesty International. Amnesty issued a statement on 7 December as a survey was released showing the frontrunner for the 2016 poll was a mayor dubbed “Dirty Harry” who has openly boasted of personally killing criminals. Amnesty said it had asked the five leading presidential hopefuls to give them a copy of their human rights agenda but none complied, despite repeated requests. It said President Aquino’s preferred successor, Mar Roxas, and rivals Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, Vice President Jejomar Binay, Senators Grace Poe and Miriam Santiago have not provided any policy details platform on human rights. The country sees numerous killings of journalists, political figures and petty criminals. A survey released on 7 December by the respected Social Weather Stations group revealed Duterte, the longtime mayor of Davao, leads his rivals in the race to succeed Aquino. In a report earlier this year, Human Rights Watch said Duterte’s so-called “Davao Death Squad” had killed more than 1,000 people during his tenure as mayor of Davao City.  http://bit.ly/1NSUACJ

Enforced disappearances in Bangladesh

The Daily Star from Bangladesh carried a story on 8 December describing “deep-seated anxiety over the continuation of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances”.  Mizanur Rahman, Chairman of the country’s National Human Rights Commission, told the closing session of a human rights conference in Dhaka on 7 December that “the day before yesterday, we observed some 19 families crying before the nation to get back their fathers or brothers or sons who disappeared in the last two years allegedly after being picked up by law enforcing agencies. So where is the pledge Bangladesh made before the international community two years back in Geneva that the country pursues zero tolerance toward extrajudicial killings and disappearances?” http://bit.ly/1TWOfVH

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.