World News Digest July


Migration Crisis                                                                   

Yahoo News reported on 1 July that at least 10 people had died after a rubber boat carrying migrants began sinking in the Mediterranean on 30 June. On 8 July the Huffington Post reported that the Italian navy had recovered 217 bodies from the hull of a migrant ship that sank off Libya in April 2015.  The R2P Live portal reported on 13 July that at least 10,000 unaccompanied child refugees had disappeared after arriving in Europe over the past two years, with half that number having vanished in Italy. The Hindu reported on 14 July that one child was killed and six people were missing after a boat carrying migrants overturned off the coast of Lesbos. On 15 July Deutsche Welle reported that the International Organization for Migration had registered a total of 3,693 cases of persons killed or missing while trying to reach Europe since January 2016. The Times of Malta reported on 18 July that according to Italian police, rescuers had saved 366 migrants from boats trying to cross the Mediterranean to Italy, but at least 20 people were reported to have drowned. On 22 July the Daily Mail carried a story saying that rescue boats had recovered the bodies of 17 migrants and pulled 1,128 survivors from the Mediterranean on 21 July, a day after 22 corpses were found at the bottom of a smugglers’ boat. The Daily Mail reported on 25 July  that the bodies of 41 suspected migrants had washed up on a beach in Libya. The PBS NewsHour carried a story on 26 July on the continuing loss of life among desperate migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean and highlighted the role that ICMP can play in helping governments to address the issue of missing migrants. Al Jazeera reported on 26 July  that the number of bodies of migrants recovered on a city beach west of Tripoli since the weekend had risen to 87, according to a media official from the coastal city of Sabratha. BBC News reported on 27 July that up to 30 migrants were feared dead after a boat capsized off the Libyan coast while some 77 had been rescued by EU naval units. The Telegraph carried a story on 29 July on the testimony of volunteers and humanitarian workers helping migrants arriving from Libya.

Coconuts Hong Kong reported on 11 July that two persons were missing after a boat carrying 13 people, suspected to be undocumented migrants from South Asian countries, capsized in south China’s Guangdong Province near Hong Kong. The Daily Mail reported on 15 July that Kamala Lakhdhir, the nominee for US ambassador to Malaysia, has said she will press the Malaysian government for a full investigation into mass graves of suspected human trafficking victims. The Macau Daily Times reported on 25 July that the US envoy on combating human trafficking was to visit Malaysia amid complaints that the Southeast Asian nation has failed properly to investigate alleged official complicity over mass graves of suspected trafficking victims. Benar News, a daily from Malaysia, reported on 27 July that representatives of Malaysian NGOs had expressed concern over Malaysian authorities’ unwillingness to prosecute human trafficking cases.


The Mail & Guardian Africa carried a story on 11 July about the alleged involvement of Kenyan police in extrajudicial executions and enforced disappearances of suspected Al Shabaab militants.  Human Rights Watch released a report on 19 July about counterterrorism operations in Nairobi and northeastern Kenya during which at least 34 people have gone missing in the last two years. The Star, a daily from Kenya, reported on 22 July that President Uhuru Kenyatta is under pressure to form a commission of inquiry to investigate increasing cases of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances linked to security operations.


The Mail Online reported on 3 July on a statement by Egypt’s human rights council that the authorities’ human rights record has not improved, noting a string of enforced disappearances by the police and abuse of prisoners. CNN carried a story on 13 July on a new Amnesty International report on human rights violations in Egypt. On 14 July Reuters reported Amnesty’s conclusions.  Aswat Masriya, a daily from Egypt, reported on 26 July on a protest by mothers of the forcibly disappeared, which was held on 25 July in front of the National Council for Human Rights in Giza and dispersed by Egyptian security forces. Daily News Egypt reported the same story on 26 July. Almonitor reported on 27 July on international criticism of Egypt over torture and enforced disappearances.


The Daily Mail reported on 29 July that a mass grave containing the human remains of 25 ISIS victims has been discovered in a school in Fallujah, Iraq.


Human Rights Watch reported on 11 July that the Turkish government is blocking an independent investigation into alleged mass extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, displacement of civilians, and widespread destruction of private property in the southeast of the country. Amnesty International released a statement on 25 July urging the Turkish government to allow for independent monitors to be given immediate access to detainees in all facilities in the wake of the coup attempt, as the organization has gathered “credible evidence that more than 10,000 people detained in the last two weeks are being subjected to beatings and torture, including rape, in official and unofficial detention centers.”


The Hindu reported on 12 July that 21 missing persons from Kerala State in India are suspected to be in Islamic State camps in Syria or Afghanistan, according to Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. On 13 July the Hindu reported that Indian Intelligence agencies had no evidence to support the theory that the 21 missing persons had joined Islamic State. Onmanorama, a daily from India, carried a story on 14 July about the 21 missing youths. The Hindu reported on 15 July that India has sought Iran’s help in tracing 17 persons from Kerala suspected of having joined Islamic State. The Hindustan Times reported on 25 July that Indian intelligence agencies had traced the latest message of one of the missing Kerala youths to Afghanistan.

Sri Lanka

The Daily Financial Times, from Sri Lanka, carried a story on 7 July about the participation of Sri Lanka’s Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera at the 32nd session of the UN Human Rights Commission. According to Minister Mangala, the Government expects the basic framework of a truth and reconciliation commission to be ready for discussion by September 2016, while the Special Court for accountability should be ready for discussion by January 2017. NDTV, a television network from India, reported on 21 July that according to the former Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa a proposed bill to set up an office of missing persons targeted government troops who defeated the Tamil separatist movements and ended the 26-year long ethnic civil war in Sri Lanka. Lankapuvath, the national news agency of Sri Lanka, reported on 25 July that according to a UK Government report, Sri Lanka’s human rights situation continued to improve during the first half of 2016. Seithy News, a Tamil daily from Sri Lanka, reported on 26 July  that the Asian Human Rights Commission had criticized former President Mahinda Rajapaksa over his statement that “establishing the Office of Missing Persons is a betrayal of the armed forces”.


On 13 July Amnesty International called on the Bangladeshi authorities immediately to establish the fate and whereabouts of a surviving hostage from the Gulashan cafe terrorist attack on 1 July, when five militants took hostages and killed 29 people. One of the hostages has been missing since being taken by police for questioning. The Pakistan Telegraph reported on 18 July that Bangladesh Police are investigating at least 11 reported cases of missing persons in the aftermath of the Gulashan café attack. Newsweek Pakistan, carried a story on 21 July about at least 261 people across Bangladesh who have gone missing and are suspected to have joined the homegrown Islamist extremist movements or the ISIS in the Middle East.


The Himalayan Times carried on 8 July on infighting in the country’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) amid accusations of a lack of transparency. The Kathmandu Post reported on 12 July that more than 50,000 complaints have been registered with the TRC. On 13 July the Kathmandu Post carried a story saying that Nepal’s political crisis had made “the half-finished transitional justice process” uncertain. The Kathmandu Post reported on 18 July that the TRC had received 52,545 cases of human rights abuses committed during the decade-long civil war, as the three-month deadline for case registration ended on 17 July. The Kathmandu Post carried a story on 19 July on what it described as a “failed transitional justice” program, noting that the two-year mandate of the TRC and the Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons (CIEDP), will expire in seven months. The Kathmandu Post reported on 28 July that the CIEDP has screened 1,800 of the 2,780 complaints it has received. Of these, the commission has forwarded 200 complaints for the second phase of investigation.


Amnesty International, called on 1 June on the new President of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, to fulfil his inauguration pledge and uphold the country’s commitment to break with its poor human rights record. UCA News, a Catholic news service in Asia, carried a story on 7 July about the families of missing persons who have sought the help of President Duterte to locate some 2,300 people who have been missing since the 1970s. ABS-CBN News from the Philippines reported on 11 July that the Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD) is requesting a dialogue with President Duterte on the issue of enforced disappearances. Rappler, a daily from the Philippines, published a story on 19 July noting that the International Commission of Jurists has expressed concern over President Duterte’s statements “that appear to be encouraging extrajudicial killings” of those involved in drugs.


The Jakarta Post carried a story on 20 July about latest developments regarding the legacy of the 1965-66 massacres in Indonesia. On 21 July the Jakarta Post reported that the Indonesian government has reaffirmed its stance of no apology to the victims and survivors of the 1965 communist purge or their families. On 29 July Human Rights Watch urged Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo to reverse his decision to appoint a former general indicted for crimes against humanity as his new security minister.


On 15 July Human Rights Watch urged  Lao Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith to disclose the fate of Sombath Somphone, a prominent activist who was forcibly disappeared in December 2012 after he was taken into police custody. Mr. Sophone defended small landholders in the face of logging and mining interests and challenged the massive land deals the Lao government has negotiated in recent years.


The Guardian reported on 12 July that Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission had released new findings in the case of 43 students who disappeared two years ago. US NGO the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) reported on 22 July that, during talks in Washington, US President Barack Obama and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto would discuss whether the Mexican government has met human rights conditions that are part of U.S. security assistance. Xinhua News reported on 25 July that two men involved in one of Mexico’s most shocking kidnapping and killing incidents had each been sentenced to 520 years in prison.

El Salvador

ABC News reported on 14 July that El Salvador’s Supreme Court had declared as unconstitutional a 1993 amnesty law that prohibits the prosecution of crimes committed by the military and leftist rebels during the conflict that lasted from 1980 to 1992. TeleSUR from Venezuela carried a story 15 July about the amnesty law.

United States

The International Business Times reported on 18 July  that the US Coast Guard had given up the search for 13 missing Cubans and two other migrants on a capsized boat.


The Catalan News Agency carried a story on 19 July on the organizations in Spain that are working to recover historic memory of thousands who disappeared during the Spanish Civil War. Agencia EFE reported on 27 July that Spain has given the green light to exhume two bodies of founding members of an anarchist union who were buried within the fascist-era monument, the Valley of the Fallen.


Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International released a joint report on 21 July about detention, torture and enforced disappearances of civilians in eastern Ukraine. UAWire from Ukraine reported on 29 July on a demonstration in Kiev in support of Erwin Ibrahimov and other Ukrainians and Crimean Tatars who have disappeared in the Crimea.

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Balkan Insight reported on 11 July that the bodies of 127 recently identified victims were to be buried at the memorial site in Potočari on the 21st anniversary of the Srebrenica genocide. Balkan Insight also reported on 11 July on punishments for crimes committed at Srebrenica. On 12 July NBC reported on the tens of thousands who gathered at Srebrenica to mark the anniversary. The Balkanist released an interview on 12 July with forensic anthropologist Dr. Dragana Vucetic, who works in the Podrinje Identification Project in Tuzla. Balkan Insight reported on 21 July that hundreds of local residents paid their respects in Kozarac near Prijedor as the remains of eight people killed by Bosnian Serb forces during the war were laid to rest more than 20 years after they were killed. Balkan Insight carried a story on 25 July on the new Museum of Crimes Against Humanity and Genocide 1992-1995 in Sarajevo. Sarajevo Times reported on 27 July on the re-exhumation of the remains of 65 victims for the sake of re-association, i.e. the completion of the bodies, at the Srebrenica Memorial Centre in Potocari.


Pristina Insight reported on 14 July that forensic experts had begun excavations on the University of Pristina campus searching for a mass grave that is suspected to contain bodies of Albanians killed during the war in 1999. Balkan Insight reported on 22 July that according to Elez Blakaj, Kosovo’s special prosecutor, the excavation of the suspected mass grave at Pristina University was expected to resume. The UK portal New Historian carried a story on 26 July on the search in Pristina. ABC News reported on 29 July that according to Kosovo’s special prosecutor’s office, excavations at the Pristina Campus had found no traces of a mass grave.


Justice Info published an interview on 8 July with ICMP-Director General Kathryne Bomberger on the 20th anniversary of ICMP. ICMP and the International Criminal Court (ICC) announced on 7 July that a Memorandum of Understanding had been signed between the two organizations. On 27 July, Diplomat Magazine carried a report on the opening of ICMP’s new headquarters in The Hague.