November and December Monthly World News Digest

Migration

Mediterranean

The Greek newspaper Kathimerini, carried a story on 31 October saying that that an estimated 2,500 Pakistani migrants had disappeared from reception centers in the Aegean islands, apparently fleeing due to fears that they would be deported. The Greek Reporter published an article on 1 November saying that a rescue operation was in progress off the southern Peloponnese to locate a vessel transporting an unknown number of migrants. The Guardian reported on 3 November that Amnesty International had described how European migration policies have led to the alleged torture, abuse and illegal deportation of asylum seekers arriving by boat in Italy. On 3 November BBC News reported that more than 200 migrants were believed to have drowned in two shipwrecks off the coast of Libya. On 4 November The Daily Mail reported that children bussed from the Calais “Jungle” to temporary accommodation centers in France were at serious risk of going missing. The Global Times reported on 8 November that almost 3,000 migrants and refugees rescued in the Mediterranean had reached various ports in southern Italy on the previous Monday. Yahoo7News reported on 16 November that around 100 people were missing, feared drowned, in the Mediterranean after a migrant dinghy capsized. Middle East Eye carried a story on 22 November saying that at least eight people had died and many more were missing, feared dead, after migrant boats were believed to have sunk in the Mediterranean. On 24 November The Independent reported that almost one in three children who moved from the Calais Jungle after it was demolished had gone missing.  The Washington Post reported on 30 November that the number of migrants heading to Italy from Libya had broken the annual arrivals record.

US-Mexico Border

KRGV, a US television station, reported on 3 November that people working in the South Texas outback have said the number of bodies found in 2016 already surpasses the count from 2015. The Washington Post published a report on 19 November about the identification of deceased migrants from Mexico at the Texas border. RGVProud, a US TV station, carried a report on 24 November  on the identification of immigrants who died in Brooks County, Texas, as they crossed into the United States illegally.

 DNA

The McGill Daily published an article on 31 October on the evolution of DNA sequencing technology. Laboratory Equipment carried a story on 21 November about a map for determining the birthplace of ancient people and animals in Central America, created with the use of advanced forensic methods. The Financial Times reported on 30 November on genomics applications, and a range of “next generation sequencing” technologies.

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Balkan Insight reported on 2 November that Jovan Tintor, a former adviser to Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, had been charged with committing crimes against humanity in 1992. On 9 November Balkan Insight carried a story on protests that followed the arrest of ten former Bosnian Croat fighters from Orasje.

Croatia

Total Croatia News reported on 20 November that the Association of Children of Killed and Missing Croatian War Veterans had participated in a remembrance ceremony at the mass grave at Ovčara near Vukovar, to honor 264 soldiers and civilians who were taken from Vukovar Hospital in 1991 and killed. Balkan Insight reported on 25 November that the exhumation of the remains of 18 Operation Storm casualties from a cemetery in Zadar had been completed.

Macedonia

Balkan Insight reported on 15 November that the ruling VMRO DPMNE party had nominated Johan Tarculovski, the only Macedonian convicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, as a candidate in parliamentary elections on 11 December.

Kosovo

Balkan Insight reported on 15 November that in his first interview since being appointed Chief Prosecutor of the new Kosovo Special Court, David Schwendiman explained that suspected criminals are his target, not the Kosovo Liberation Army itself.

Serbia

Balkan Insight carried an article on 4 November about the Lisiciji Potok district in Belgrade, which, the report said, could be the site of the biggest mass grave in the Serbian capital, where hundreds of people were shot dead after World War II, according to some historians.

Cyprus

The Famagusta Gazette reported on 14 November on a photo exhibition on the work of the Committee on Missing Persons in Cyprus at the Palais des Nations in Geneva. On 29 November The Famagusta Gazette quoted Cyprus Presidential Commissioner Photis Photiou as saying that while the CMP exhumation program had been being running for more than ten years, the fate of about 1,000 missing persons remains to be clarified.

Spain

The Daily Mail published an article on 4 November on the search for victims of the Spanish Civil War in Majorca. The Telegraph reported on 20 November on the exhumation of the remains of victims executed by Nationalist forces during the Spanish Civil War and buried in unmarked mass graves.

 Sweden

The New York Daily News reported on 1 November that Raoul Wallenberg, credited with helping at least 20,000 Hungarian Jews escape the Holocaust, has been pronounced dead by Swedish authorities, 71 years after he disappeared.

Iraq

Buzzfeed carried a story on 5 November describing bodies and clusters of mass graves found on the way to Mosul. CNN reported on 7 November that a mass grave containing the remains of about 100 beheaded civilians had been discovered inside a school in a town south of Mosul. On 8 November The Wall Street Journal reported that Iraqi authorities had begun to identify bodies discovered in a mass grave in a village southeast of Mosul. Human Rights Watch reported on 10 November that Iraqi and Kurdistan Regional Government forces had detained at least 37 men from areas around Mosul and Hawija suspected of being affiliated with so-called Islamic State. BBC News published an article on 10 November  saying that men dressed in Iraqi federal police uniforms were reported to have tortured and killed residents of villages south of Mosul, according to Amnesty International. Yahoo news carried a story on 12 November  describing how Da’esh fighters had driven thousands of civilians across the Nineveh desert, retreating ahead of Iraqi advances on Mosul. The International Business Times carried an article on 15 November on the Mosul frontline, “where Islamic State open fire on residents as they flee but Iraqi artillery and air strikes ‘have killed dozens’.” CNN reported on 17 November that Iraqi security forces have discovered two mass graves near the city of Mosul containing around 250 bodies. Al Manar TV from Lebanon published an article on 19 November about a mass grave discovered by Iraqi forces advancing on Mosul. Voice of America published an article on 22 November on the situation in Sinjar, once home to roughly 80,000 people in the traditional homeland of the Yazidi people. On 23 November Iraqi News carried an article on an announcement by UNHCR that the bodies of 25 victims of the Camp Speicher massacre had been taken out of the Tigris River in Tikrit. The Washington Post reported on 24 November that at least 70 people had been killed, most of them Shiite Muslim pilgrims from Iran, when an explosive-laden tanker truck detonated at a gas station south of Baghdad. Reuters reported on 27 November that two mass graves of at least 18 members of Iraq’s Yazidi minority had been discovered as security forces advance on Mosul. BuzzFeed carried a story on 29 November  describing the experience of villagers who returned to their homes in the summer after large parts of Anbar Province were liberated from Da’esh by forces loyal to the Iraqi government.

Syria

Voice of America reported on 1 November that Syrian opposition activists are urging the United Nations and the international community to push for the release of tens of thousands of detainees in Syria. Al Jazeera carried an article on 13 November on what it says has been a government campaign of disappearances in Syria.

Bahrain

The Bahrain Centre for Human Rights reported on 7 November on the case of Sayed Alawi Hussain Alawi, who had been forcibly disappeared for two weeks following his arrest by Bahraini security forces.

Lebanon

Amnesty International issued a statement on 16 November on the death of Ghazi Aad, founder of a human rights organization that works on behalf of detained and exiled citizens (SOLIDE).

United Arab Emirates

Amnesty International published an article on 25 November on human rights violations “hidden by glamorous international sporting events”.

 Yemen

Middle East Eye reported on 17 November that Human Rights Watch had accused Yemen’s Houthi rebels of arbitrarily detaining, torturing and forcibly disappearing opponents since they overran the capital in September 2014.

Egypt

Al Jazeera carried an article on 1 November about growing fears over the whereabouts of a 22-year-old Egyptian student who was last seen being dragged away from a Cairo metro station by a group of men, shortly before security forces raided his family home. Reuters reported on 1 November that Italian and Egyptian prosecutors had discussed Egypt’s investigation into the killing of an Italian student, describing the talks as “positive”, after months of rising tension during which Rome complained about a lack of cooperation from Cairo. The Independent reported on 12 November that at least 130 people had been arrested in Egypt after taking part in protests against poor economic conditions and rising prices.

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Jammu and Kashmir

The Kashmir Monitor carried an article on 1 November aboutgrowing concern within the security establishment” over a sudden increase in disappearances of young people in Kashmir. Greater Kashmir published an article on 2 November on calls by activists for the UN to be granted “unfettered” access to investigate allegations of human rights violations in Kashmir. On 8 November The Guardian reported on renewed conflict between India and Pakistan. The Kashmir Media Service carried a story on 10 November highlighting the case of activist Khurram Parvez, detained in Jammu under the Public Safety Act (PSA). The Pakistan Observer reported on 15 November that the Prime Minister of Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Muhammad Raja Farooq Haider Khan, had called on the European Union to probe mass graves and the use of pellet guns by India security forces in Indian-administered Kashmir. The Daily Mail reported on 25 November () that a court in Indian-administered Kashmir had ordered police to release a prominent Kashmiri human rights activist arrested on charges of involvement in activities against the public order, saying authorities had no evidence. Scroll.in published an article on 29 November about a human right activist who was still in detention in Jammu and Kashmir because of a “minor clerical error” despite a High Court order for his release.

Pakistan

The News International, a news agency from Pakistan, reported on 11 November that, criticizing the Supreme Court’s commission on missing persons, Sindh Assembly Opposition Leader Khawaja Izharul Hasan had said that families were being asked to accept compensation and withdraw their complaints. The Nation carried an article on 11 November noting that the commission on missing persons still has more than 1,300 cases pending from various parts of Pakistan. The Daily Times reported on 11 November that the Sindh High Court had directed law enforcement agencies to make all-out efforts for the recovery of missing persons. The New Indian Express reported on 13 November that Pakistani security forces had handed over four bodies, including that of a 14-year-old boy, to the District Headquarters Hospital at Gwadar in southwestern Balochistan. Yibada.com, a US portal that focuses on Chinese affairs, carried an article on 14 November about the new international trade route that was formally opened in southwest Pakistan on 13 November. The News International reported on 17 November that the Sindh task force for missing persons had stated that it is unable to locate missing persons from Karachi and suggested that families should accept financial compensation from the provincial government – an offer rejected by most families. Dawn reported on 18 November that Pakistan’s Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) on Thursday noted the need to give the wives of missing or disappeared individuals the option to remarry and directed its research cell to determine a solution that would be practical and in accordance with the tenets of Islam. The International News carried an article on 26 November noting that a large number of social, human rights and literary activists had expressed concern over the alleged enforced disappearance of literary activist and publisher Abdul Wahid Baloch’s on 26 July.

Bangladesh

New Age Bangladesh reported on 7 November that over 300 people have been victims of enforced disappearance by law-enforcement agencies in Bangladesh since January 2009.

Sri Lanka

Tamil Net reported on 10 November that a magistrate in the district of Mannar in the north of the country had instructed the Sri Lankan Criminal Investigation Department to come to a conclusion without further delay on the external institution that should be conducting the scientific investigations on more than 80 human skeletons from alleged mass graves at Thirukkeatheesvaram in Mannaar exhumed since December 2013.

Nepal

The Himalayan Times reported on 19 November that ten years after the signing of the peace accord, successive Nepali governments have failed to deliver on their central human rights promises, according to Human Rights Watch.

Myanmar

The Daily Star, a newspaper from Bangladesh, published a report on 26 November on the Rohingya people in Myanmar, described as being in the “final stages of genocide”.

Cambodia

The Phnom Penh Post carried an article on 2 November about an anthropology researcher analyzing skeletal remains of Khmer Rouge victims who stresses the importance of balancing artefact preservation with respect for local culture. Voice of America reported on 23 November that the UN-backed tribunal in Cambodia had upheld life sentences given to two former leaders of the Khmer Rouge regime for crimes against humanity.

The Philippines

The Manila Bulletin reported on 2 November that hundreds of Typhoon Yolanda survivors had visited unnamed graves in a village near the town of Palo in Leyte Province, where many victims of the storm that struck three years ago are buried. The Manila Times published an article on 2 November about relatives of desaparecidos, victims of enforced disappearances during martial law imposed by then-President Ferdinand Marcos in 1972. On 4 November The Philippine Star published an article about a UN warning that crimes against journalists are rampant all over the world. Interaktyon reported on 15 November that five policemen had been confined to camp after closed circuit television footage apparently showed them abducting a man who is still missing.

 Thailand

The Bangkok Post carried an article on 3 November about the wife of human rights lawyer Somchai Neelapaijit, who has criticized the suspension of an investigation into his disappearance.

North Korea

The Daily Telegraph carried a story on 29 November reporting a claim made by a human rights group in South Korea that it has identified at least 12 mass graves in North Korea using satellite imagery and testimony from defectors.

Japan

The Japan News reported on 10 November that the Japanese government is trying to formulate new rules for handling personal data in preparation for the enforcement of revisions to the Protection of Personal Information Law.  

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Gambia

Jollofnews reported on 14 November that the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) had rejected accusations that she has turned a blind eye on gross human rights abuses committed by the Gambian regime of President Yahya Jammeh. The Guardian carried an article on 16 November on the director-general of Gambia’s state TV and radio broadcaster, Momodou Sabally, who was dismissed and immediately arrested by security services on unspecified charges. Soon after this, a reporter with the same broadcaster, Bakary Fatty, was detained by members of the national intelligence agency.  These arrests were followed by a third. Alhagie Manka, a documentary maker.

Nigeria

Voice of America reported on 14 November that nine people had been killed in clashes between Shi’ite Muslims and police during a religious procession in northern Nigeria on Monday, according to the Police, while the minority sect said dozens of its members had lost their lives. The Daily Trust reported on 22 November that the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) had called for the release of the bodies of IMN members allegedly buried in mass graves in Kano and Kaduna. Amnesty International published an investigation on 23 November in which it says that the Nigerian security forces, led by the military, had embarked on a chilling campaign of extrajudicial executions and violence resulting in the deaths of at least 150 peaceful pro-Biafra protesters in the southeast of the country.

South Sudan

Jurist.org, a legal news website, reported on 3 November that several South Sudanese organizations had co-authored a letter to the African Union Commission (AUC) calling for the creation of the Hybrid Court for South Sudan. Relief Web reported on 22 November that government and rebel forces in and around South Sudan’s southern town of Yei had committed serious abuses against civilians in recent months, according to Human Rights Watch.

Tunisia

The Daily Mail reported 21 November that in a series of heartrending televised hearings, a tribunal in Tunisia has begun the long process of healing the wounds of six decades of dictatorship.

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Colombia

Jurist.org reported on 13 November that the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia (FARC) had reached a peace agreement to end the five-decade conflict. Telesur carried an article on 20 November about a report on enforced disappearances published by Colombia’s National Center for Historical Memory. According to the report, over the span of 45 years, 60,630 people were forcibly disappeared in Colombia. Jurist.org reported on 20 November on Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos’ announcement that congress would debate the proposed peace deal with FARC. Telesur published an article on 22 November on the huge number of missing persons in Colombia.

Jamaica

Amnesty International published a report on 23 November which finds that Jamaican authorities and local police are promoting a culture of fear among women and their families in marginalized communities to cover up thousands of alleged unlawful police killings amid systematic injustice.

Mexico

On 8 November El Pais reported  the apparent flight from justice of Javier Duarte, the disgraced former governor of the Mexican state of Veracruz wanted by Interpol and the Mexican authorities. NBC San Diego carried a story on 9 November on a statement by the Mexico state attorney-general’s office saying that reports of hundreds of missing girls south of the US-Mexico border are unfounded. Opendemocracy.net published an interview on 16 November  with Professor Sergio Aguayo, from the Colegio de México and Stanford University, who said that “from sheer helplessness” Mexicans are try to cope with collusion between organized crime and law enforcement and political circles “which, instead of guaranteeing the security of citizens, fluctuate between complicity, brazen connivance and indifference to the suffering of the victims”. Fox News Latino reported on 23 November on the discovery of a drug gang’s camp where a kidnap victim was rescued, body parts were found in a cooler and the remains of seven bodies were extracted from clandestine burial pits. The Telegraph reported on 24 November that Mexican authorities had exhumed 32 bodies and nine heads from several clandestine graves in Mexico’s violence-plagued southern state of Guerrero. Telesur reported on 24 November on the “Caravan of Central American Mothers of Missing Migrants”, which seeks to raise awareness about the plight of thousands of missing migrants. After traveling through Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala and parts of southern Mexico, the 12th Caravan of Mothers of Missing Migrants arrived in Mexico City. Mexico News Daily carried a story on 26 November on the experience of relatives of missing persons waiting in Guerrero state to find out if their family members’ remains are buried in mass graves there.  The Catholic News Agency, from the US, published an article on 29 November on the Archbishop of Guadalajara’s announcement that his diocese is calling off its distribution of a list of missing persons, because of fears of retaliation against family and friends of those who have gone missing in the Mexican state of Jalisco.

Venezuela

The PanAm Post published a reporte on 28 November about a mass grave with twelve bodies discovered in Barlovento, Miranda state, Venezuela. Eleven Venezuelan army officers have been accused of murdering twelve people under the auspices of the Operation of Liberation of the People (PLO), a security program implemented by Nicolás Maduro.

Monthly Digest – December 2016

Migration

Mediterranean

The BBC reported on 6 December that the European policing agency Europol is planning to investigate what is believed to be the biggest loss of a migrant boat in 2016, following a Reuters-BBC Newsnight investigation. The Wall Street Journal, reported on 7 December that as many as 13,000 people who had registered in Greece’s migrant camps were unaccounted for. The Independent reported on 8 December that countries in the EU will be able to return migrants to Greece from mid-March, according to the European Commission. On 19 December the International Organization for Migration reported that 7,189 migrants and refugees had died or were missing on world migratory routes in 2016. The Daily Sabah, a newspaper from Turkey, carried an article on 20 December stating that five Afghan migrants including four children and one woman, had been killed while eight others had been rescued when a boat they boarded sank off the Aegean coast of Turkey. Aljazeera published an article on 29 December on the efforts of a community in Tunisia to provide a dignified burial to thousands of unidentified migrants who have been washed up on the nearby shore.

US-Mexico Border

Telesur reported on 8 December that thousands of migrants crossing the U.S-Mexico border have been killed and disappeared because of U.S. Border Patrol practices, which have fueled a “missing person’s crisis,” according to a new report. Vibe.com, a U.S. news website, reported on 13 December on a new identification program launched by the Texas Observer. Yahoo News carried an article on 15 December on the Texas EquuSearch Mounted Search and Recovery Team, a nonprofit organization that spearheads recovery efforts for lost and missing persons. ThePulitzerCenter released an article on 20 December on the migration by tens of thousands of Central Americans through Mexico in a desperate bid to reach the United States. The Houston Chronicle reported on 27 December that the Texas Observer had launched this month an online database in English and Spanish that shows personal items found with the bodies of deceased migrants in South Texas. World Bulletin carried an article on 26 December stating that at least 19 Brazilians who had gone missing last month while trying to reach the United States illegally were believed to have drowned off the Bahamas.

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Mass Graves

The Conversation, an academia-based news portal, published an article on 16 December on the protection of mass graves that have been discovered in different parts of the world. On 19 December it published a story dealing with conflict-related mass graves in Syria, Iraq, Cambodia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo and other parts of the world, noting that while there have been calls from some European parliamentarians for mass graves in Iraq and Syria to be protected, “implementing adequate safeguarding has yet to become a priority for the international community”.

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United Nations

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights published a statement on 19 December by High Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein highlighting the serious human rights challenge of enforced disappearance.

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Iraq

The New York Times carried a story on 30 November about the legacy of mass graves in Iraq, stretching back to the time of Saddam Hussein. ANTIWAR.COM, a U.S. website, reported on 12 December that recent operations in Mosul had forced about 100,000 people to flee their homes. Business Insider carried an AFP story on 20 December  describing dozens of mass graves discovered in areas around Iraq that have been recaptured from Da’esh. On 22 December Scroll.in carried an article on the Da’esh campaign against Ezidi communities in northern Iraq.

Syria

The Washington Post published a feature story on 1 December about burying of the dead in Aleppo. “It’s too dangerous to bury east Aleppo’s dead in the daylight. So when night falls, an imam slips out to the latest mass grave, conducting the briskest of rites and thanking God that the skies have stayed silent. The New Arab reported on 14 December that the UN Commission of Inquiry for Syria had noted “the grave allegations levelled against pro-government forces in Aleppo”, including “summary executions, arbitrary arrests, enforced disappearances and forced conscription”. Deutsche Welle reported on 26 December that the Russian military had found the tortured bodies of civilians in mass graves in Aleppo, allegedly left there by rebel groups. Tass carried an article on 28 December stating that the UN hopes evidence of crimes in eastern Aleppo will be preserved until its monitors gain access to mass graves in the city.

 Kuwait

The Kuwait Times reported on 29 December that Deputy Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Khaled Al-Jarallah had said that Iraqi authorities had provided him with new information regarding missing Kuwaiti persons, adding that Baghdad “prioritizes this tragic humanitarian issue”.

Lebanon

Equal Times carried an article on 15 December on the 15-year-long Lebanese Civil War that ended in 1990, and the mass graves that resulted from it.

Turkmenistan

Reuters reported on 7 December that the UN’s Committee against Torture has accused Turkmenistan of torture, systematic abuse, including rape and beating in jail, and political disappearances. 

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China

CNN Philippines carried an article on 1 December about the controversial one-child policy that resulted in as many as 60 million “missing girls” in China. In a new study, researchers suggest that around 25 million of these girls aren’t actually missing, but went unreported at birth. Reuters carried an article on 6 December about a new report by Human Rights Watch on the corruption crackdown ordered by Chinese President Xi Jinping, which HRW says is reliant on a secret system of detentions and torture beyond the reach of the formal Chinese criminal justice system. The BBC carried a story on 10 December noting that on UN Human Rights Day, 10 December, commemorating the date on which the UN General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, many Chinese lawyers are without the protection of the Declaration. China Digital Times, carried an article on 13 December about Human Rights Day, saying that “the occasion brought a chorus of protests over abuses in China, from detentions and prosecutions of rights lawyers to measures against citizen journalists and NGOs.” Radio Free Asia reported on 28 December that a healthcare worker in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong wass being held alongside his nephew on suspicion of subversion after his nephew went to inquire after his whereabouts, according to relatives. Newsx, an Indian news portal, reported on 28 December that a Chinese activist and founder of a human rights website had been accused of “subversion of state power”, a charge frequently used against dissidents in China.

India

The Daily Mail reported on 30 November that authorities in Indian-controlled Kashmir had released a prominent human rights activist from prison after a court ruled that his detention was illegal. Narada News, a news portal from India, reported on 19 December that police in Delhi had launched a manhunt for missing Jawaharlal Nehru University student Najeeb Ahmed in the sprawling campus with sniffer dogs, some 64 days after he went missing. The Hindu reported on 22 December that the Madras High Court has criticized the Tamil Nadu State government’s laxity in tracing missing children. On 27 December Kashmir Media Service reported  that a large number of activists had taken to the streets of Srinagar to protest against the detention of political leaders under the Public Safety Act, and the issuance of domicile certificates to non-Kashmiris

Pakistan

The Express Tribune reported on 1 December that the Islamabad High Court had instructed relevant government departments to respond to cases involving Pakistanis outside the country who are, it said, “facing incarceration and even executions abroad”. AAJ News reported on 3 December that a parliamentary body had expressed disapproval over the slow response by the Interior Ministry to a request from the committee for a report on the implementation of its recommendations in regard to 300 missing persons. The Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organizations reported on 5 December that on 1 December, Pakistani security forces had abducted 22 people in Balochistan. Deutsche Welle reported on 7 December that Pakistani activist Wahid Baloch, who disappeared four months earlier, had returned to his home in the southern city of Karachi. The News International reported on 8 December that the Sindh High Court had indicated that cases of missing persons are “increasing day by day in the country and becoming a sensitive and serious issue”. On 12 December The Pakistan Observer reported on the situation in Kashmir, where it said “mass killings, forced disappearances, rapes, fake encounter killings, torture” are  “day to day” issues.  The Express Tribune reported on 16 December that a government official had informed the Sindh High Court that relatives of as many as 24 workers of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, who had reportedly gone missing, had demanded that the government provide them with a permanent monthly allowance. The Express Tribune reported on 20 December that the chair of a commission on enforced disappearances had told a panel of the Pakistan Senate that the Balochistan government had misleading and inflated figures on missing persons. The BBC carried a story on 28 December saying that nearly 1,000 dead bodies of political activists and suspected armed separatists had been found in Pakistan’s Balochistan province over the past six years.

Bangladesh

Scroll.in carried an article on 8 December about the practice of enforced disappearances that has become “a small but routine part of law enforcement in Bangladesh in the past seven years”. The Daily Star reported on 13 December on the Golahat mass grave near Saidpur railway station in northern Bangladesh, where 437 people were massacred during Bangladesh’s 1971 war of independence from Pakistan.

Myanmar

On 6 December The Tehran Times reported that dozens of people had been reported missing, feared drowned, after a boat packed with Rohingya Muslims fleeing violence in Myanmar and trying to reach Bangladesh sank in a border river. Reliefweb reported on 19 December on what it says is a government campaign of enforced disappearance against Rohingya residents of Myanmar’s northern Rakhine State.

The Philippines

The BBC reported on 14 December that Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte had admitted that he personally killed criminal suspects as mayor of Davao. The Telegraph carried an article on 27 December stating that at least six people were dead and 18 others missing after Typhoon Nock-Ten lashed the Philippines over the Christmas holidays.

Thailand

Reuters carried a story on 20 December saying that the wives of three prominent Southeast Asian human rights campaigners who went missing after being detained by the authorities have united to urge Laos and Thailand to end impunity over forced disappearances.

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Bosnia and Herzegovina

Reuters reported on 2 December that a Bosnian war crimes prosecutor had indicted six Bosnian Serbs on charges of killing at least 40 Muslims and Roma early in the 1990s conflict and attacking about 1,000 people from the Srebrenica area in eastern Bosnia. The Guardian published a report on 6 December on the process of finding and identifying those who are still missing from the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, highlighting the work of ICMP. On 6 December Voice of America reported on the closing arguments for the prosecution in the trial of Ratko Mladic, the last major war crimes case at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), which is winding down after more than 20 years prosecuting war crimes committed in former Yugoslavia during the 1990s. Reuters carried an article on 6 December about the arrest of eight Bosnian Serbs suspected of killing around 120 Bosniak and Croat men and boys in northwest Bosnia at the start of the 1992-95 war. The Independent published an article on 7 December on thousands of families who are still waiting for news of missing loved ones, 25 years after the conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina, also highlighting ICMP’s work. Balkan Insight on 8 December reported on an interview in which former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, who has been convicted of genocide in Srebrenica, said the massacre was perpetrated by “traitors to the Serb people”. France 24 reported on 13 December on the four-year trial of Ratko Mladic, former military chief of the Bosnian Serbs, which is due to end on 15 December.

Albania

Balkan Insight reported on 13 December that a UN team working on enforced disappearances says the authorities in Albania have done too little to help victims of communist-era persecution find the bodies of the missing or mass graves.

Serbia

On 12 December Balkan Insight reported that the expected opening of the first case to be prosecuted in Serbia related to the 1995 Srebrenica massacre had been delayed at Belgrade’s Special Court when the defense asked for the judges to be removed.

Kosovo

Gazeta Express carried an article on 14 December on the launch of the new ICMP Guide for families of the Missing Persons in Kosovo, which explains the rights of families of missing persons prescribed by domestic legislation, including access to social and economic benefits and other forms of reparation.

Cyprus

The Cyprus Mail reported on 4 December that Cyprus would ask the Council of Europe (CoE) to make a request to Turkey to grant access to its military records regarding the location of mass graves in the north of the island. The Greek Reporter carried a story on 11 December noting that the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe (CoE) had called on Turkey to pursue a “proactive approach to providing the Committee on Missing Persons in Cyprus (CMP) with all necessary assistance to continue to achieve tangible results as quickly as possible”. The Famagusta Gazette reported on 16 December that a session of the 100-member Advisory Board of the Pancyprian Organization of Relatives of Undeclared Prisoners and Missing Persons had adopted a resolution calling on President Anastasiades Nicos Anastasiades to renew and intensify efforts to address the issue of missing persons.

UK & Ireland

The Irish Examiner reported on 3 December that the families of two missing women were appealing for more resources for the Serious Crime Review Team (SCRT), a unit of the Irish police that was established in 2007 to work on cases of people who have been missing for extended periods of time. The Belfast Telegraph reported on 5 December that police have investigated nearly 2,700 reports of young people going missing from children’s homes in Northern Ireland in the last year. On 6 December The Irish Examiner reported that the National Missing Persons Helpline risks closing its doors. The Huddersfield Daily Examiner, on 7 December reported the launch in West Yorkshire of a Police and Crime plan that focuses on missing people. The Shropshire Star reported on 12 December that 3,000 people have gone missing in the past two years in Shropshire, – more than 1,000 of them children in care.

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Nigeria

Human Rights Watch released a statement on 14 December calling on the Nigerian authorities “to end their violent repression” of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, a minority Shia group. The Nigerian newspaper, The Guardian, published an article on 22 December stating that 42 civil society organizations had called on the Federal Government and governors of Abia and Anambra states to initiate an independent investigation into allegations of serious human rights violations by security forces against supporters and activists of the Indigenous People of Biafra and other pro-Biafra organizations.

Kenya

KDR TV in Kenya reported on 7 December that the National Police Service has been accused of involvement in the killing and disappearance of tens of people in the Coastal Region in the context of the fight against terrorism. Standard Digital, a news agency from Kenya, reported on 8 December that the National Police Service had dismissed these claims. Einnews reported on 12 December that human rights organizations and media outlets had found credible evidence that units of the Kenyan security forces, including the Kenya Police Service, the Kenya Defense Forces (KDF), the Kenya Wildlife Service, (KWS), and the National Intelligence Service (NIS), had killed, disappeared, and tortured people suspected of being terrorists or criminals. On 13 December The Mombasa News reported that Haki Africa, a human rights NGO, had defended its report on extrajudicial killings in the Coastal Region.

Rwanda

Reuters published an article on 30 November about a Rwandan inquiry into the possible role of at least 20 French military and other officials in the 1994 genocide, a move that could further strain relations Between Kigali and Paris.

Uganda

NTV10, a TV station from Uganda, reported on 2 December that the Government had halted burials in mass graves of unidentified victims of an attack by Ugandan army and police units on the palace of the king of the Rwenzururu kingdom in Western Uganda on 27 November. AllAfrica reported on 18 December that Muslim residents of Uganda’s capital Kampala had accused President Yoweri Museveni’s government of persecution.

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US & Canada

The Augusta Free Press, from the US state of Virginia, published an article on 6 December on a unanimous Senate vote to reauthorize Justice Department programs to support cutting-edge DNA testing and forensic technology.  The Norwalk Reflector, a U.S. local newspaper, carried a story on 12 December about missing children in the State of Ohio. CBC news published an article on 6 December on missing children in Kenora, Ontario.

Mexico

The Daily Mail published an article on 1 December about the killing and kidnapping of journalists in Mexico. CBS News reported on 11 December on the tenth anniversary of Mexico’s war on drugs, the offensive that has left some major drug cartels splintered and many old-line kingpins such as Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman in jail, but which, it says, has “done little to reduce crime or violence in the nation’s roughest regions”. Science carried an article on 14 December on a group of anthropologist who are independently trying to help families of missing persons in Mexico. The BBC reported on 21 December that the bodies of some of the 32 people killed in an explosion at a fireworks market outside Mexico City are so badly charred that neither their age nor gender could immediately be determined, according to the state prosecutor.

Colombia

Amnesty International published an article on 1 December on the ratification by Colombia’s Congress of a revised version of the peace agreement between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).