Yearly Archives: 2018

ICMP Commissioner Wim Kok 1938-2018


The Hague, 21 October 2018 – ICMP Chair Thomas Miller today described the late Wim Kok as an individual whose leadership, advocacy and political stamina helped to place the issue of missing persons at the center of global policy. Mr Kok, who died on Saturday at the age of 80, had been a Commissioner of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) since 2002.

“Wim Kok was methodical and conscientious,” Ambassador Miller said. “He was not someone who wore his emotions on his sleeve, nor was he given to theoretical flights of fancy – he focused his prodigious energies on practical issues and it was this that enabled him to make such a significant contribution to ICMP’s ability to resolve missing persons cases around the world.”

Director-General Kathryne Bomberger said Wim Kok had…

Daily World News Digest, 19 October 2018

UN warns against “new practice of extraterritorial abduction”

The Daily Star newspaper from Bangladesh reports on an address to the UN General Assembly by Bernard Duhaime, Chair of the UN Working Group on Enforced Disappearances, in which he warns of “a new and very worrying practice of extraterritorial abductions by states”. The Working Group will submit an in-depth study to the UN Human Rights Council on the practical implementation of the obligation to investigate enforced disappearances.

Myanmar: disappeared villages in Rakhine state

More than a year after a massacre in the village of Inn Din in the north of Myanmar’s Rakhine province, “there were no specific signs of the outburst of sudden, gruesome violence that killed 10 Rohingya Muslims, and no trace of the mass grave in which they were buried,” the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reports.

Remains recovered from Sri Lanka’s largest mass grave will be taken to the USA


Daily World News Digest, 18 October 2018

Indonesia: mass graves on the island of Palu

In an extensive photo report, AFP reveals the impact of the 28 September earthquake and tsunami on the Indonesian city of Palu, including aerial photographs of mass graves, established by the authorities for reasons of public health.

Secret detention in China

The recent disappearances of A-list actress Fan Bingbing and the president of Interpol Meng Hongwei have again focused international attention on China’s use of secret detentions, the BBC reports, citing among others the author of “The People’s Republic of the Disappeared”.

Journalists at risk of enforced disappearance

The free speech organization, Article 19, has published a statement supporting the resolution on the safety of journalists adopted by the UN Human Rights Council last month. Article 19 notes that “According to UNESCO’s most recent global trends report, 530 murders of journalists were recorded between 2012 and 2016, with the rate of impunity for…

Iraqi Ambassador Visits ICMP Headquarters

The Hague, 17 October 2018: Iraq’s newly-appointed Ambassador in The Hague, H.E. Dr. Hisham Al-Alawi, visited the Headquarters of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) today, where he met ICMP Director-General Kathryne Bomberger and senior members of staff.

Director-General Bomberger briefed Ambassador Al-Alawi on ICMP’s global operations and its program in Iraq, where it has worked for more than a decade with political leaders, forensic experts, and families of the missing to address the country’s complex missing persons issue. She also provided Ambassador Al-Alawi with a tour of ICMP’s high-throughput DNA laboratory system.

Ambassador Al-Alwi expressed appreciation for the support that ICMP has been able to give its partners in Iraq and stated that he looks forward to continued cooperation.

Director-General Bomberger said ICMP wishes to continue working in partnership with Iraq to assist the country in developing a sustainable strategy to locate missing persons and to secure the rights of…

Daily World News Digest, 17 October 2018

Pakistan: 36 missing persons had been traced in Sept 2018

Dawn newspaper in Pakistan reports that the Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances (CIED) accounted for 36 missing persons in September, of whom 13 are currently detained in internment centers. The CIED has frequently uncovered cases where individuals have been held incommunicado in government detention facilities.

Gambia Launches Truth and Reconciliation Commission

Gambia has launched a truth and reconciliation commission to look into crimes committed under former President Yahya Jammeh’s government, which is accused of torturing and killing perceived opponents, Voice of America reports. Victims, witnesses and alleged perpetrators of crimes are to begin testifying to the commission later this month. The process is expected to take around two years.

Mexico: 16 bodies found in mass grave

Police have found 16 bodies in a clandestine burial pit on the outskirts of Guadalajara in Mexico, including the bodies of two women,…

Daily World News Digest, 16 October 2018

Accounting for the missing in Indonesia

The New York Times reports that two weeks after the earthquake and tsunami in Sulawesi, the Indonesian government has ended the formal search for remains. It notes that weeks in the tropical heat have raised concerns about the health of rescue workers, but the decision is “hard news for mothers, fathers, daughters, grandparents who gather at the edge of the destruction each day, searching for the bodies of loved ones.”

Enforced disappearances in India

An opinion piece in the Counterview portal highlights the fact that India has not defined enforced disappearance as a criminal offence in its penal code and as a result, families of the disappeared file complaints under broader legal provisions. The piece calls for the appointment of a commission to investigate enforced disappearances in line with international standards.

Iraq: new Yezidi mass grave

A mass grave in the village of Kasr…

Daily World News Digest, 15 October 2018

“Thousands of bodies” not yet recovered in Raqqa

The Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper reports on the situation in Raqqa, Syria, a year after it was retaken from Da’esh. Amnesty’s research director Anya Neistat notes that following the battle for the city, the dead were buried quickly in mass graves or left under the rubble. “We are still talking about thousands of bodies that have not been recovered,” Neistat told AFP.

Extrajudicial killings in Central African Republic

Human Rights Watch has highlighted a situation in which, it says, fighters in the Central African Republic “feel free to kill at will, despite the presence of United Nations peacekeepers”. HRW says Seleka rebels captured and executed at least nine civilians, including seven women, on 6 September 2018.

Libya: 35 bodies found at mass grave near Tripoli

AFP reports that 35 bodies have been found in a mass grave in an agricultural area some 15…

Daily World News Digest, 12 October 2018

Indonesia: search for missing children after the earthquake

Nearly two weeks after the earthquake and tsunami on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, parents and children separated in the chaos are trying to locate one another, NPR reports. In the first ten days, UNICEF and Save the Children registered about 100 unaccompanied minors and have also received reports from families of more than 200 missing children. While families have identified some of the dead, hundreds of unidentified bodies have been buried in a mass grave east of the town of Poboya.

Sri Lanka: Compensation for war victims

The Sri Lankan parliament has passed a law to pay compensation to victims of the 30-year-long separatist war between the Sri Lankan Army and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, according to Business Standard. According to official figures, around 20,000 people are missing due to various conflicts, including the separatist war, in the north…

Daily World News Digest, 11 October 2018

Indonesia: major search and rescue operations due to end

Nearly two weeks after a devastating earthquake and tsunami hit the Indonesian city of Palu, the government says it has imposed a rescue deadline to stop the spread of disease, and because it has become increasingly difficult to identify bodies, the BBC reports. More than 2,000 people are known to have died and around 5,000 are still feared missing.

Libya: mass grave containing 75 bodies found

A mass grave containing 75 bodies has been found near the former jihadist bastion of Sirte in western Libya, according to the Daily Mail. Seventy-five decomposed bodies were recovered in the presence of the public prosecutor. The coastal city’s municipal council spokesman, Mohamad al-Amial, said the find was made “a few days ago” and that the bodies were believed to be of Da’esh group members, although there was no confirmation.

China’s Xinjian region gives…

Implementing Recommendations on Identifying Human Remains in BIH Mortuaries

Sarajevo 10 October 2018: The International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) has published an infographic that highlights the work of the NN (No Name) Working Groups that were established by the BIH authorities in 2013 to investigate why it has not been possible to match the DNA profiles from more than 3,000 human remains held in mortuaries throughout the country to 8,000 reported cases of missing persons, for which families of the missing have provided sufficient reference samples.

In November 2017, following a four-year effort spearheaded by the Prosecutor’s Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina in cooperation with the BIH Missing Persons Institute (MPI) and with technical assistance from ICMP funded by the European Union, ICMP and the MPI announced the preliminary results of the project. Careful review of all remains kept in BiH mortuaries resulted in 121 new identities, 968 re-associations…