Thursday, 13 June 2013

Bodies pile up at Port-au-Prince general hospital morgue

A situation has been developing at the morgue of the general hospital in the capital. Down for several months, bodies continue to arrive by the dozens every day in Haiti's largest hospital and are being left in the courtyard decaying and posing a health hazard for workers, patients and citizens.

According to information obtained by Haiti Press Network which spoke to a source at the State University Hospital (HUEH), the cooling system of the morgue is down.

"The bodies can not be kept." Some bodies were deposited in mass graves dug hastily in the locality Titanyen on National Highway #1, learned HPN.

"It is an alarming situation. corpses continue to arrive at the morgue who can no longer keep them. Bodies are rotting and endanger the health of crews in the morgue," said an official of the National Network for the Defense of Human Rights (RNDDH) which was alerted about the situation.

Facing this situation developing in the morgue HUEH, health authorities of the Ministry of Public Health and Population have asked not to receive the bodies. But problem! This is the public morgue reference where police continue to carry the victims of insecurity.

"Sometimes the bodies are placed in the courtyard of the hospital, and nobody knows what to do when families come to claim the body their families, we can not say that they are buried in pits," a source told to Haiti Press Network.

United Nations Peacekeepers assist

With a current total of nearly 36 000 U.S. dollars, the containers were made available to the morgue by MINUSTAH following a request made last night by the Ministry of Public Health and Population (MSPP) . Indeed, the country's health authorities have closed the morgue, where hundreds of bodies to carry out the repair of cold rooms and their refrigeration system.

The two containers previously belonged to the Japanese contingent of MINUSTAH, which left the country in December. "This rapid initiative is part of our ongoing efforts to support and support the Haitian authorities in their efforts to serve the people," said Sophie Boutaud de la Combe, spokesman for MINUSTAH.

Thursday 13 June 2013

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Veritas calls for review of Gotovina verdict

Serbian non-government organization Veritas Documentation and Information Center on Wednesday petitioned the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) for a review of the final verdict in the Gotovina case.

The ICTY acquitted Croatian generals Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac on appeal last November, after they were initially sentenced to 24 and 18 years imprisonment respectively for crimes against Serbs during and following Croatian military and police operation Storm in 1995.

Veritas says new information has surfaced in the case after the acquittal.

The new fact in the case, according to Veritas, is the number of remains exhumed from the St. Mare mass grave in Sibenik and the town cemetery in Zadar, Croatia, with the preliminary and conclusive identifications completed to date.

The facts were not known to the ICTY prosecutor’s office at the time of the proceedings before the Trial Chamber and Appeals Chamber, and could not have been uncovered even with the utmost effort, but had they been proven, these facts could have been the crucial factor in the decisions made by both chambers, says Veritas.

The organization points out that the Administration of Detained and Missing Persons of the Croatian Ministry of Veterans’ Affairs, with the Serbian Missing Persons Commission acting as observers, organized the exhumation of remains of Serbs killed in the aggression of Croatian armed forces in August 1995 (Operation Storm) on a UN protected area known as Sector South, at locations St. Mara in Sibenik and the town cemetery in Zadar.

The remains of 87 people were exhumed from these sites last November and this May, of whom at least 55 civilians and 15 women.

Before these group exhumations, 23 bodies were unearthed at the request of individual victims’ families, for a total of 110 bodies exhumed at these two sites, 60 of whom have been identified to date. The average age of the victims was 62, and at least 41 were civilians and 16 women.

By comparing the remains from these two sites for which preliminary or final identification has been completed with the verdicts of the ICTY Trial Chamber and Appeals Chamber, it can be concluded that evidence was based on only two persons, whose remains were buried at the Zadar town cemetery.

According to Veritas, 1,886 Serbs, among them 1,196 civilians and 540 women, were killed in Operation Storm, including Sector North and Sector South. Of these, 891 have been buried, while 943 are still officially missing.

A total of 1,011 victims have been exhumed in Sector North and Sector South since 2001, of whom 666 have been identified.

In Sector South during Operation Storm – which was the subject of the trial – according to Veritas, 1,041 Serbs were killed, of whom 671 civilians and 290 women. Of these, 606 have been buried, while 435 are still officially missing.

A total of 663 victims have been exhumed in Sector South since 2001, of whom 455 have been identified.

Veritas expects the ICTY prosecutor’s office will consider its petition, supported by the Serbian War Crimes Prosecutor’s Office and the National Council for cooperation with the ICTY, and order the relevant chamber to review the verdict in the case Gotovina et al. (Operation Storm), says the statement signed by Veritas President Savo Strbac.

Thursday 13 June 2013

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India: GRP disposes of 425 unidentified bodies in five years

Government Railway Police (GRP) at Thane have disposed of as many as 425 unidentified bodies of victims of train accidents in last five years.

In the the last five years, a total of 1,456 persons, including 173 women, lost their lives in various train-related accidents in Thane alone. "The identity of 425 bodies could not be established and hence their bodies were disposed of as per the procedure," said a senior officer attached to Thane railway police station.

These deaths were on the account of reasons including crossing of tracks, falling off train etc, he said, adding that some of the victims are slum-dwellers living nearby the tracks and knocked down by trains.

"The facilities at the morgue of Thane civil hospital and CS Hospital at Kalwa are insufficient and police find it difficult to store the bodies for seven days before they are disposed of. The government has sanctioned an amount of Rs 500 to 1000 for the disposal of the unclaimed bodies," the officer said.

A Railway Police report revealed that at 342 deaths on tracks were the highest in 2012 and so did the number of unclaimed bodies at 134 in 2010. According to reports, the number of deaths in railway accidents in last five months this year has crossed 100.

Thursday 13 June 2013

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Australia search for missing Lanka asylum-seeker boat

Less than a week after nearly 55 asylum-seekers perished at sea, a second major air and sea search is under way for a boatload of up to 30 Sri Lankan asylum-seekers, missing for seven days near Australia, The Australian reported yesterday.

The Australian had been told that "serious concerns" were held for the boat, which was first spotted west of the Cocos and Keeling Islands last Wednesday.

News of this latest emergency came as a member of the Australian government’s expert panel on asylum-seekers, Paris Aristotle, said more deaths at sea were inevitable for as long as parliament delayed implementing the panel’s 22 recommendations.

The Australian, in a news story published yesterday, on its online edition, quoted Aristotle as having said: "That is not the responsibility just of the government, it’s the responsibility of the whole of the parliament to compromise. The opposition and the Greens should give the government the capacity to implement all the recommendations in full."

The report said: He declined to say whether he thought the tough suite of measures proposed by the Coalition would suffice to stop the boats. But, he said regardless of the election outcome, "the government of the time will still need a package of this type if it has any hope of better managing this issue".

Last night, a Customs P3 Orion and a Dornier aircraft, supplied by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, were scanning the seas 250 nautical miles north of Cocos Island in search of the missing vessel. AMSA has also put out an alert asking merchant vessels in the area to assist in the search.

News of the search, which as of yesterday was the top priority for Customs, casts new light on the agency’s controversial decision not to retrieve the bodies of those lost in last week’s shipwreck.

On Tuesday, Julia Gillard defended Customs for not going back for the 13 bodies observed floating in the water.

The Prime Minister said Border Protection Command made a "very tough" but operationally sound decision to abandon the retrieval of bodies when its resources were too stretched with a spate of rescue operations.

"As border command has made clear, they always put the highest priority on saving lives and I think we would all understand why that’s got to come first in any tasking or any work that border command does," she said.

As Ms Gillard stressed the latest high-seas tragedy sent a clear message to potential asylum-seekers not to risk their lives on boats, Tony Abbott was also forced to defend his party’s controversial policy of towing unseaworthy boats back to Indonesia.

After his frontbench colleague Malcolm Turnbull raised concerns that the Coalition’s policy would not be safe if Indonesia resisted the return of asylum-seeker boats, Mr Abbott insisted it could be done effectively.

"I see no reason why a future Coalition government can’t have the same strong and constructive relationship with Indonesia that the Howard government had and that’s what I will be working towards from day one," the Opposition Leader said.

Sri Lanka’s high commissioner Thisara Samarasinghe, a former navy chief, said the Sri Lankan and Australian governments had succeeded in substantially reducing the number of asylum-seekers boarding boats to Australia. Samarasinghe said between January 1 and the end of last month, the Sri Lankan navy had intercepted and returned 28 boats carrying about 480 Sri Lankans, including 80 women and more than 100 children.

The number of Sri Lankans to travel to Australia by boat so far this year has dropped to 1644, down substantially from the 6428 Sri Lankan arrivals last year.

Thursday 13 June 2013

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