Daily World News Digest, 8 January 2016

UN pressures Thai government on 82 disappeared

Bangkok Post reported today that Foreign Ministry spokesman, Sek Wannamethee, said the government has been active in dealing with enforced disappearances. Mr Sek’s comments came after the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on Wednesday urged the government to step up efforts to investigate the whereabouts of 82 people listed as missing, including respected lawyer Somchai Neelapaijit who went missing nearly 12 years ago while defending people arrested under martial law in the restive South. Mr Zeid also called on the government to criminalize enforced disappearance in its legislation, in line with international standards. http://bit.ly/1mKbNSC

The EU has called for an investigation into the missing Hong Kong booksellers

Time Magazine reported today that the EU is calling for an investigation into the recent disappearance of five individuals connected to a Hong Kong-based publisher of books critical of China. Two of the missing persons are citizens of EU member states. In a statement released on Thursday, the EU’s diplomatic agency decried the “continuing lack of information about the well-being and whereabouts” of the missing owners and staff of Mighty Current Media, which is notorious for its salacious texts on top mainland Chinese officials and business figures. The prevailing suspicion in Hong Kong is that the men have been detained by Chinese authorities. http://ti.me/1Z9TB0U

Disappearances of Mexican youth increase by 200 percent

Telesur news portal carried a story on 7 January saying that according to new data released on Thursday by the Mexican Network for Children’s Rights (REDIM) disappearances among adolescents increased by 191 percent between 2012 and 2014. The new figures, which were obtained through the government’s National Registry of Missing Persons database, revealed that seven out of 10 of missing children are girls between the ages of 15 and 17. According to official figures, almost 50 percent of the 22,322 disappeared people in Mexico went missing between 2012 and 2014 under the current administration of President Enrique Peña Nieto. http://bit.ly/1mHl8ep

Torture and disappearances of Tamils continue in Sri Lanka

Asia Sentinel, a regional news portal, carried a story on 7 January saying that despite high marks for reconciliation attempts of Sirisena government in Sri Lanka, Tamil citizens continue to be abducted and tortured by security forces, according to a new report by the International Truth and Justice Project. The report details the suffering of 20 victims who have allegedly been kidnaped during the past year during the presidency of Maithripala Sirisena. According to the truth and justice NGO, the practice of ‘’white van abductions’’ continues. According to the report, given the continued abductions and reprisals, the chances of persuading witnesses to testify to a Truth Commission are small. http://bit.ly/1kRDffQ

Guatemala detains 14 former military officials over abuses and enforced disappearances

Latin One news portal reported on 7 January that Guatemala has detained 14 of its ex-military officials who were charged on human rights abuses during the country’s armed conflict. Many of those who were detained had allegedly worked where a mass grave was unearthed. One of those arrested was Manuel Benedicto Lucas Garcia, brother of former president Fernando Romeo Lucas Garcia. Thelma Aldana, the Guatemalan attorney general, said that Garcia and the others were being charged in connection with the mass disappearance of at least 558 indigenous people between 1981 and 1988. In 2012, four mass graves were excavated and the bodies of “non-combatant civilians identified by survivors” were discovered. http://bit.ly/1OE1QAM

Ethnic Somalis are dying and disappearing in Kenya, and some say the government is to blame

The Washington Post carried a story today saying that a growing number of Kenya’s ethnic Somalis have vanished or turned up dead after being detained amid a crackdown by security forces on Islamist extremists. The authorities have denied involvement, suggesting many of the deaths are at the hands of al-Shabab, an al-Qaeda affiliate based in neighboring Somalia. The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) released a report in September documenting 25 extrajudicial killings and 81 “enforced disappearances” of ethnic Somalis across Kenya. A number of those who were detained were later released, and some recounted how they were tortured while being interrogated about suspected links to al-Shabab. http://wapo.st/1Jyi2TW

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.