Daily World News Digest, 9 June 2015

Macedonia probes migrant kidnap claims

BalkanInsight reported on 8 June that police are investigating media reports about the alleged large-scale kidnapping of illegal migrants from the Middle East by gangs who are said to be holding them for ransom. Police said they had launched a probe after Britain’s Channel 4 News broadcast a report about hundreds of migrants from countries such as Syria, Afghanistan and Yemen being held for ransom by gangs in at least one Macedonian village, alleging that local police have colluded with their captors. The Channel 4 News report said that migrants who were initially promised safe passage by rail through Macedonia are being pulled off the train in their hundreds by a gang near the town of Kumanovo, forced to walk two hours to the village of Vaksince and held and abused there in an overcrowded house until they pay a ransom. http://bit.ly/1HYkImR

Enforced disappearance in Egypt: a practice on the rise?

The Cairo Post reported on 8 June that Hanaa Ali, mother of a 23-year-old student Esraa el-Taweel, called through her Facebook account on the authorities to reveal her daughter’s whereabouts. El-Taweel, who is recovering from a leg injury, was reported missing on 1 June along with two others, Sohaib Saad and Omar Mohamed, who were together at a dinner in the Cairo district of Maadi. The three are still missing. Hanaa Ali mother told The Cairo Post on Monday “we have reported to the prosecution and police stations; unofficial sources told us she is at the homeland security agency.” At least 163 disappearances have been reported since April; 64 of them were found, while two died, according to Freedom for the Brave, a group dedicated to helping detainees. Human Rights Monitor group has identified at least 44 cases since April, 31 of whom disappeared in May. http://bit.ly/1Gwb14a

UN accuses Eritrea of widespread rights abuses

Deutsche Welle carried a story on 8 June on the report on Eritrea compiled by a three member inquiry panel set up by the UN Human Rights Council. Sheila Keetharuth, the UN Special Rapporteur on Eritrea and a member of the Commission of Inquiry set up by the UN Human Rights Council, said that systematic, gross human rights violations are being committed under the authority of the government. Some of these violations constitute crimes against humanity. She called for an end to all forms of enforced disappearance. http://bit.ly/1JBaTku

Call for DR Congo authorities to exhume mass grave

Human Rights Watch issued a statement on 8 June calling on the Democratic Republic of Congo authorities “promptly and properly” to exhume a mass grave that may contain the bodies of people forcibly disappeared or executed by Congolese security forces. On 5 June, the families of 34 victims filed a public complaint with Congo’s national prosecutor requesting justice and the exhumation of the mass grave in Maluku, a rural area about 80 kilometers from the capital, Kinshasa. Local residents, opposition leaders, the UN peacekeeping mission in Congo, and human rights groups, including Human Rights Watch, have raised concerns about a 19 March nighttime mass burial, in which government security forces participated, on the edge of Maluku’s Fula-Fula cemetery. The government has neither exhumed the gravesite nor revealed the identities of those buried there. http://bit.ly/1JCqjTY

eyeWitness to Atrocities: an app aimed at bringing war criminals to justice

The Guardian carried a story on 8 June on the launch of a mobile phone app that enables eyewitnesses to download evidence of alleged atrocities from anywhere in the world so that it can be verified and used to prosecute perpetrators. The London-based International Bar Association (IBA) has developed digital technology that will help human rights activists document and store photographs and films that can be shown in court. The initiative is initially aimed at bringing to justice those responsible for war crimes, torture or genocide in conflicts such as those raging in Syria, Ukraine or the Democratic Republic of Congo. It could eventually be extended to record abuses committed by paramilitary groups or security forces who use violence to disperse demonstrations. http://bit.ly/1RZBJEl

Iraq: millions of displaced face worst humanitarian crisis in decades

The international medical organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières warned on 8 June that intense fighting has forced almost three million people to flee war-torn areas of central and northern Iraq in the last year, and many are now stranded in areas without the most basic humanitarian assistance. Thousands of families have fled widespread violence and shifting front lines, especially in the governorates of Anbar, Ninewa, Salah Al-Din, Kirkuk, and Diyala. Many have been displaced several times and have lost their possessions. People are living in extremely poor conditions in overcrowded shelters, including tents, unfinished buildings, religious buildings, and schools. “Iraq is experiencing its worst humanitarian crisis of recent decades,” said Fabio Forgione, MSF head of mission in Iraq. http://bit.ly/1GwcYxC

More reporting of missing persons

The Niagara Falls Review carried a story on 8 June that Niagara police have dealt with 20 missing-person reports in less than three weeks. “The majority are runaways from foster care or because of issues at home,” said Niagara Regional Police Staff Sgt. Lou Greco. He said it’s not that the region is necessarily seeing more cases than before, it’s just that police are being more proactive in sending out press releases when people go missing. “In the age of social media, going to the media seeking the public’s assistance is a good way to get the message out there. It’s a good way to get more eyes and ears on the case and can lead to cases being resolved more quickly.” http://bit.ly/1Kma7a8

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.