Daily World News Digest, 9 May 2017

Mexico: legislation to tackle enforced disappearances

The Latin American Working Group published a first-quarter report today on the human rights situation in Mexico. Among other things, it notes that after two years of debate in the Mexican Congress, a General Law on Disappearances recently passed the Senate, is now being debated in the Chamber of Representatives, and could be enacted in the coming weeks. Although there are reservations, “many associations of family members of disappeared persons, and other civil society groups, are urging Mexican lawmakers to move the bill forward as soon as possible,” the report says. “The United Nations Office for Human Rights in Mexico and the national movement of family member collectives highlighted the weakest part of the bill as the design and function of the National Search Commission,” the report adds, noting that the role of the Search Commission is judged to be weak and unclear in regard to “how it would coordinate with federal and local authorities and family members to search for the disappeared.” http://bit.ly/2qWtmlv

Libya: abductions soar in “climate of impunity”

Human Rights Watch reported on 7 May on the case of Jabir Zain, a Tripoli-based activist who was abducted on 25 September 2016 “by an armed group linked to the Interior Ministry of the UN-backed Government of National Accord,” and is still missing. Since the beginning of the 2014 conflict in Tripoli, militias aligned with various governmental authorities and criminal gangs have kidnapped or forcibly disappeared with impunity scores of people in the capital for political gain, ransom, and extortion, the article says. The investigations unit of the Interior Ministry recorded 189 kidnap cases in March 2017, and 68 in April, of men, women, and children in the capital alone. http://bit.ly/2qTO1qj

Pressure on Philippines to end its “anti-drug” campaign

AFP reports today that ahead of its periodic review at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, the Philippines is facing diplomatic pressure to end its current “anti-drug” campaign, which has led to a spike in violent deaths. Canada urged Manila to “end extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, illegal arrests and detention, torture and harassment”, with similar comments made by delegations from Australia, Brazil, France, Germany and Ghana, among many others. The United States said it was crucial for the Philippines to “investigate the allegations of the more than 7,000 deaths associated with the counter-narcotics campaign since July 2016, including over 2,600 killings by security forces and 4,000 by unknown assailants”. The Council meeting began with Filipino Senator Alan Cayetano, an ally of Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, denouncing what he called a campaign by rights advocates and the media to distort perceptions of the government’s actions. “There is no new wave of killings in the Philippines,” Cayetano told the council. http://bit.ly/2pVn07z

Malaysia: disappearances of religious activists

Asia Times carries a feature story today about religious activists who have disappeared in Malaysia. The article describes the abduction of a 62-year-old Christian pastor who was known for his charitable work with marginalized groups. It notes that abductions of people from minority faiths “come against a backdrop of rising Islamization in Malaysia”, while “dozens of activists and human rights defenders have been arrested in recent years under a suite of repressive statutes . . .” http://bit.ly/2qkQqxo

India: Strange case of vanishing bodies

The Hans India carries a story today about the handling of unidentified bodies in Telangana state in India. The article cites a group called the Satya Harishchandra Foundation, which claims that in more than 30,000 cases, relatives have been prevented from identifying human remains and giving their loved ones an appropriate burial. http://bit.ly/2pqgmmd


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.