Daily World News Digest, 9 November 2015

Mexico: State authorities in Morelos probed over mass grave

Telesur news portal reported on 7 November that judicial authorities announced Saturday that they had opened an investigation into former public officials from the state of Morelos over the discovery of hundreds of bodies in a mass grave. “We are talking about 105 corpses, more or less, related to various investigation files,” state attorney Javier Perez said. He said he opened a probe against former employees of the state attorney’s office and other public officials for allegedly burying the bodies in two mass graves close to the indigenous cemetery of Tetelcingo, in the municipality of Cuautla. Perez will be examining whether local officials broke the law, including the health code by transferring the bodies from morgues to the mass grave. The decision to open the probe followed the leak of a video dated from December 2014 that shows forensic experts digging up dozens of corpses. The video footage was taken by the family of Oliver Wenceslao Rodriguez, who was assassinated and buried in the mass grave. http://bit.ly/1Pk96TV

Turkey’s Court clears suspects of forced disappearances of Kurds

Telesur news portal carried a story on 7 November saying that Turkey’s most comprehensive cold case of the historic conflict between Kurdistan’s Workers Party (PKK) and the state, ended with the acquittal of all eight suspects accused of leading illegal counterterrorism group, JITEM, that reportedly tortured and killed tens of thousands of Kurds in the 1990s. The case began when mass graves were found in wells of a southeastern town and included 48 hearings on the murder of 55 unidentified victims in Cizre. Beyond conducting extrajudicial killings, JITEM is suspected to have disappeared some 17,000 Kurdish guerrillas, intellectuals and activists. The trial was originally in Şırnak, a province still healing from the conflict, but was then moved to Eskişehir, a majority pro-government city where many of the 3 million Kurds forcibly displaced by the conflict migrated. A deputy of the Republican People’s Party CHP told that the lawyers representing the victims’ families were threatened and that evidence was tampered with.  http://bit.ly/1QowvCO

Canada: Indigenous cases treated by police as ‘’less than worthy victims’’

CBC News carried a story on 7 November saying that an inquest into the deaths of seven First Nations students in Thunder Bay, Ontario is providing a preview of concerns that could be raised at a national inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women, says Julian Falconer, lawyer for the Nishnawbe Aski Nation, a political organization representing aboriginal peoples. The inquest, one of the largest in Ontario’s history, started on 5 October and is scheduled to run to March 2016. Julian Falconer says First Nations people are treated as ‘’less than worthy victims’’ by police. “It’s a theme that ties into not just this case but the entire picture around missing and murdered indigenous women and girls: less than worthy victims. The retired police officer testified at the inquest that Thunder Bay police did not launch a criminal investigation into the death of one of the students until six days after he was reported missing in October 2000. Revelations of the inquest point to the need for a regional component in a national inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women. http://bit.ly/1MGvIr4

EU and Africa leaders to attend Malta summit to stem refugee crisis

Daily Sabah, a daily from Turkey, reported on 8 November that the EU is now turning to Africa’s leaders to help tackle the refugee crisis at a summit this week. The gathering of more than 50 leaders from both continents on Tuesday and Wednesday will see Europe’s call on Africa to take back more people classed as economic migrants and not refugees from war. In return, Europe will offer development funds to tackle the wars and poverty in Africa that are the root cause of nearly a quarter of the 800,000 migrant arrivals in Europe this year. The summit was first called months ago when the Mediterranean route from a lawless Libya was still the main springboard for migrants travelling to the EU. The African nations will be asked to approve an action plan aimed at tackling the root causes of mass migration, according to a draft. It calls for stepping up diplomatic efforts to ease or resolve conflicts, such as those in Libya. The plan involves Europe sending many economic migrants back home while opening legal channels for a limited number of others to enter the EU. http://bit.ly/1kFcviJ

Amnesty International calls on Sri Lanka to fully cooperate with UN working group on disappearances

Colombo Page, a news portal from Sri Lanka, reported on 8 November that Amnesty International called on Sri Lanka’s government to fully cooperate with the UN Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances, which will be arriving in Sri Lanka today for its first visit to the island in 15 years. The UN Working Group will undertake an official visit to Sri Lanka from 9 to 18 November 2015, at the invitation of the Sri Lanka Government. Issuing a statement, the AI said the group’s visit will raise the hopes of thousands of families of the disappeared that with the UN’s help they may finally discover the fates and whereabouts of their missing relatives and have the opportunity to pursue justice and reparation. “It should acknowledge the significant challenges to accountability that persist in Sri Lanka and clearly articulate its own limitations as well. The Government of Sri Lanka should facilitate these exchanges and direct all officials to cooperate fully with the delegates,” AI statement said. http://bit.ly/1leTjJx

Two years after storm Yolanda, remains of victims still turn up

Interaksyon, a news portal from the Philippines, reported on 7 November that the people who survived the monster storm Yolanda two years ago in the coastal city of Tacloban, are still unearthing remains of those who died during the powerful typhoon. This is a proof that many of the victims are not yet laid at their final resting ground. On Saturday, the remains of six more persons were found on the grounds of a national high school in the area which was badly hit by the storm. The remains would be sent to the National Bureau of Investigation for forensic processing. Typhoon Yolanda spawned massive floods and a seven-meter storm surge that killed at least 6,300 people, injured 28,689, and affected 3.4 million families. To date, more than a thousand people are still listed as missing. The government has claimed that it has spent billions for the typhoon-ravaged provinces to help the communities rehabilitate. http://bit.ly/1PkbutR

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.