Yearly Archives: 2015

Microsoft Supports ICMP

Microsoft logo

Microsoft Corporation has donated US$474,791 in software to the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP). This will allow ICMP to maintain and enhance its Identification Database Management System (IDMS) software and add efficiency to its global communications.

This is the fifth major donation by Microsoft to ICMP. It donated software in 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2015 under its global “Unlimited Potential” initiative, which provides software support to non-profit organizations.

“ICMP operates a state-of-the-art iDMS and runs programs in many different parts of the world,” said ICMP Director-General Kathryne Bomberger. “Microsoft’s assistance has been and continues to be of paramount importance to us as we develop our human identification database and expand our communications network to manage projects separated by large distances.”

The iDMS is a specialized software solution developed by ICMP for managing large scale missing persons programs. It has a set of…

Daily World News Digest, 10 November 2015

Italy’s forensic laboratory Labanof hopes to identify migrants with ICMP’s cooperation

The Local, news portal, carried a story today saying that putting names to those who die while crossing the Mediterranean to Europe is a huge challenge for forensic scientists. Cristina Cattaneo, head of the Labanof Forensic Pathology Laboratory, which specializes in identifying decomposed, burned or mutilated remains, said “we have to do everything possible to give back names and surnames to these people.” “This is one of the most complex mass disasters in the history of forensic science,” said Cattaneo. “We’ve already managed to identify 28 people’’, she said, adding that they hope to reach many others through the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP). ICMP, which made its name by identifying over two-thirds of some 40,000 missing people from the 1990s Balkan wars, has offered to help Rome spread the word about the album of missing persons, provide…

World News Digest October


Monthly digest 4

ICMP’s Daily World News Digest brings together news stories dealing with enforced disappearances and missing persons cases from around the world. It offers a snapshot of daily events and over a longer period it highlights key trends.

During October, European governments struggled to set in place a coherent policy to address the humanitarian disaster unfolding at border crossings from Greece to Bavaria, and the Asian migration crisis continued to produce a similar catalogue of marine disasters, unscrupulous abuse by traffickers, and inadequate responses from governments. Conflict and human rights violations, including enforced disappearances, in Iraq and Syria fuelled the crisis in the Mediterranean. In Mexico, effective measures to address the country’s missing persons epidemic have not materialized, while the authorities and other stakeholders in Brazil, Ecuador and Colombia are addressing the missing persons issue in new ways – and with varying…

ICMP works with police DNA specialists from the Philippines

The Philippine National Police

Following meetings in Manila earlier this year between Philippine government officials and senior ICMP staff, two DNA scientists from the Philippine National Police (PNP) completed five weeks of training at ICMP’s facilities in Bosnia and Herzegovina in September and October.

The Philippines, one of the world’s most disaster-prone countries, suffers from devastating typhoons. Although its disaster-response capacity is substantial – Philippines medical teams were dispatched to Thailand and Indonesia to offer assistance in the wake of the 2004 Tsunami – identification of missing persons is complicated by administrative factors. Among other things, DNA evidence has not been fully integrated in the country’s judicial process, which means that a key element in an effective system of identifying missing persons – resolving legal status – is not yet in place.

“We are working case by case, but in a mass disaster situation you…

Under a Foreign Flag

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Rene Huel examines the forensic and ethical implications of a multi-generational missing persons case

During a two-day battle in July 1944, the Norwegian Ski Battalion (SS-Schijäger-Bataillon “Norge”) incurred heavy losses in the hills of Kaprolat and Hasselmann in the Karelia region (now in the Soviet Union). The troops were among about 15,000 Norwegians who volunteered for combat duty with the Wehrmacht during World War Two. It is estimated that 190 Norwegian soldiers took part in the Karelian battle: approximately 100 were killed, 40 were taken prisoner and 50 escaped. This was the largest loss of Norwegian soldiers in a single incident in the whole of the war. After 1945, soldiers who had fought on the German side were viewed as traitors: survivors faced the possibility of prosecution as collaborators.

When relatives of those who had gone missing in the Kaprolat and Hasselmann engagement…

ICMP Hague Meeting Explores Global Missing Persons Strategy



The first Conference of State Parties of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) was held on 29 October at the Foreign Ministry of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in The Hague. The meeting, was chaired by a representative of the United Kingdom.

The CSP brings together countries that have signed the Agreement on the Status and Functions of ICMP: the UK, the Netherlands, Sweden, Belgium and Luxembourg signed the agreement in December 2014 and other countries, including El Salvador, are expected to sign in the near future. Representatives of El Salvador, Germany, the US, Interpol and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) attended the inaugural Conference as observers.

The CSP discussed ICMP’s plan of work through 2018.  Among key activities for the period, ICMP will host the first meeting in November of the Inter-Agency Standing Committee on Missing Persons, whose initial focus will…

Indonesia Confronts Half a Century of Silence on the Missing

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Bojana Dzokanovic and Kevin Sullivan explore the campaign to account for hundreds of thousands of victims buried in mass graves in Indonesia 50 years ago.

In early October, 77-year old Tom Iljas, an Indonesian who has spent decades living in Sweden, visited a site in Western Sumatra where he believed his father may have been buried. His father was one of the victims of the violent 1965-66 campaign against communists and communist sympathizers that is generally reckoned to have resulted in the killing of a least 500,000 people.

Mr Iljas was unable to explore the site, as he was arrested by police and then deported from Indonesia. His only offense was to look for his father’s grave.

In a related incident, also in October, editors of a student magazine at a well-known university in Central Java were questioned by police after they published an…

Nepalese Civil Society Pursues Resolution of the Country’s Missing Persons Issue

Nepal 4

By Bojana Djokanovic

Around 30 people are believed to have been subject to enforced disappearance in Nepal between 1960 and 1989 – but this number increased exponentially during the ten-year conflict between Maoist guerrillas and the government in Kathmandu. More than 10,000 people died in the 1996-2006 war and more than 1,300 were reported as missing.

The conflict was launched by the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) after it was prevented from participating in a national election. Unlawful killings, enforced disappearances, arbitrary detention, torture, rape and other forms of sexual violence, and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment were widespread and committed by both sides. According to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, up to 9,000 cases of serious violations of international human rights or humanitarian law may have been committed, although there is a widely acknowledged…

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…

Daily World News Digest, 6 November 2015

Amnesty condemns Syrian regime over thousands of enforced disappearances

The Guardian reported on 5 November that the Syrian state and allied militia have detained and abducted tens of thousands of people since 2011 in a campaign that is a crime against humanity, according to Amnesty. The rights watchdog interviewed relatives of the disappeared who said they had been forced to pay bribes to middlemen with close ties to the authorities to gain information on the fate of their family members. Amnesty said it had attempted to discuss the issue with the Syrian authorities and was awaiting a response. The Syrian government has regularly dismissed reports accusing the state of human rights abuses. Amnesty called on Damascus to allow access to international monitors from the UN-mandated Independent International Commission of Inquiry for Syria to seek information on detainees.

Human Rights Watch raises concerns about Laos

Human Rights Watch issued a statement…