Monthly Archives: February 2020

Iraqi Scientists Strengthen Skills in Using DNA to Identify Missing Persons at ICMP Training

The Hague, 28 February 2020: Four Iraqi scientists from Iraq’s Medico-Legal Directorate (MLD) strengthened their skills in DNA identification methods during training sessions held this month at the headquarters of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP).

The training, held 17 to 28 February, was part of ICMP support to Iraqi authorities in developing capacity to handle missing persons cases.

Mr. Ahmed Qasim, Head of MLD’s Extraction Unit, and Mr. Omer Al-Barghooth, Extraction Unit Analyst focused on ICMP’s extraction protocol during a session held the first week, while Ms. Noor Salih, Head of MLD’s Quantification and Amplification Unit, and Ms. Haneen Rakhoo, Head of Capillary Electrophoresis Unit, focused on ICMP’s pre- and post-amplification procedures during a session held the second week.

Iraqi Ambassador Hisham Al-Alawi and staff from the Iraqi Embassy in the Netherlands took part in ceremonies that closed the training sessions.

The training, which included practical sessions at the ICMP’s DNA…

Daily World News Digest 27 February 2020

Bosnia and Herzegovina: massacre victims still missing

Balkan Insight reports on the anniversary of the massacre in the village of Strpci in Bosnia in 1993, where 20 people were abducted from the and subsequently killed. The remains of 16 victims are yet to be found, according to Demir Licina, the son of one of the victims. victim’s son. Finding the remains would be “a bigger satisfaction for their families than seeing someone convicted after so many years,” he said, though he hopes that current court proceedings will hold perpetrators accountable.

Nigeria: missing persons

The Nation newspaper in Nigeria reports on conclusions by the country’s National Emergency Management Agency related to a rising number of missing persons. In addition to inter-tribal conflict, it says unidentified human remains are often unclaimed and are buried in mass graves.

US: new initiative to account for missing

ABC Action News reports on an initiative in New…

Daily World News Digest 26 February 2020

Arizona: more than 120 unidentified human remains buried

In Tucson, in the US state of Arizona, the Kvoa news outlet reports on the launch of the NAMUS database which is part of a program to exhume and identify human remains using DNA technology that was not available before 1999.

Oklahoma: missing indigenous persons

SWOK news reports on an initiative in Oklahoma to address the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous people. State authorities have proposed a bill, “Ida’s Law”, allowing for the creation of the Office of Liaison for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons to work with state, tribal and federal law enforcement agencies.

Cameroon: extrajudicial killings

Human Rights Watch reports on extrajudicial killings in Cameroon, where the government denies that its forces have been responsible for the deaths of at least 21 civilians, including 13 children and one pregnant woman, in an attack that took place on 14 February.

Podcast on…

Daily World News Digest 25 February 2020

Colombia missing persons search plan

In an interview with El Tiempo, Andreas Forer, the Head of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) Colombia Program, speaks about the National Search Plan, being prepared which ICMP support, and the technical challenges related to the recovery of bodies in rivers and lakes and the identification of badly burned human remains, as well as “database management, and the preservation, custody, and memorialization of remains” (Original article in Spanish).

Ghana: Reburial of Gambian massacre victims

According to Ghana Web, families of 44 victims of a 2005 massacre in the Gambia have expressed doubts regarding the identity of human remains reburied at the Osu Cemetery in Ghana. Martin Kyere, a survivor and spokesperson for the victims’ families based his doubts on the fact that no DNA testing was conducted on the remains that were exhumed from a mass grave in the Gambia in 2009.

Nigeria: Killings…

ICMP Photo exhibition in Baghdad underlines importance of cooperation to account for the missing in Iraq

Baghdad, 25 February 2020: A photo exhibition organized by the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) and Iraqi institutions tasked with finding missing persons, including the Martyrs’ Foundation and the Ministry of Health was inaugurated this week.  The exhibition, which is supported through ICMP’s EU –funded Iraq program, highlights the magnitude of the missing persons issue in Iraq and showcases the Iraqi National Team’s intensive work to address it.

The exhibition, titled “Missing Persons Can Be Accounted For:  A Strong Partnership between ICMP and the Iraqi National Team”, also illustrates how ICMP is helping its partners in Iraq to build a sustainable and effective missing persons process.

“The photos in this joint exhibition tell a story of hope. They show that with cooperation from all involved, it is possible to find the missing and to help the families of the missing,” said Rasa Ostrauskaite, the Head of ICMP’s Iraq Program.

The Head…

Daily World News Digest 24 February 2020

Zimbabwe: exhumations and reburials of 1980s victims

Pindula Zimbabwe reports on the prospects for the exhumation and reburial of victims of the government’s 1980s “Gukurahuni” campaign against “dissidents” in Matebeleland. President Emmerson Mnangagwa is scheduled to meet with Matabeleland leaders and civil society groups, including the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission, to build consensus on steps forward.

Colombia: survivors speak up

Personnel from Colombia’s Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) have discovered human remains of 54 victims in the village of Dabeiba in the Northwest Colombia, according to Colombia Reports. The discovery comes in the context of a nationwide effort to enable survivors to speak up about forced disappearances and mass graves.

Kenya: unidentified bodies to be buried

Mpasho Kenya reports on the burial of 26 unidentified bodies in Kiambu County, near Nairobi, where mortuary capacity is limited. According to the law, hospitals may dispose of unclaimed human remains 21 days after…

Daily World News Digest 21 February 2020

Mass graves in Northeast Syria

The Hill reports on the urgent need to account for missing victims of Da’esh in Northeast Syria, where it says “post-ISIS recovery efforts are stalling” in an increasingly complex military and political situation. “Many of the kidnapped may have ended up in one of the over 20 mass graves uncovered so far in areas previously under ISIS control,” it says.

Rohingya refugees trafficked from Bangladesh

Anadolu reports that authorities in Bangladesh have started erecting barbed-wire fences around Rohingya refugee camps to rein in illegal trafficking of vulnerable refugees. “In recent months incidents of risky trafficking of Rohingya to Malaysia have significantly increased through the Bay of Bengal,’ the report says, adding that rights groups have characterized the fencing and other measures as violations of refugees’ rights.

Boat carrying 91 migrants missing in Mediterranean

A rubber dinghy carrying 91 migrants and refugees that set out from Libya has…

Daily World News Digest 20 February 2020

Lawyer recognized for documenting arbitrary arrest in Yemen

France 24 reports that Huda Al-Sarari, a lawyer who exposed a network of secret prisons in war-ravaged Yemen, where thousands of men and boys were arbitrarily held and tortured, has been named as the recipient of the prestigious human rights prize, the Martin Ennals Award.

Iraq: mass grave of Da’esh victims

Rudaw news agency reports on a sinkhole found in Nineveh in northern Iraq that is believed to contain almost 1,000 bodies. “The pit contains at least 1,000 bodies. They had even dumped victims into the mass grave while they were still alive,” a local official said.

Pattern of enforced disappearances in South Sudan

Human Rights Watch has called for the urgent reform of South Sudan’s National Security Service. It says the country’s Human Rights Commission and others have documented “a pattern of arbitrary arrests and detentions, torture, and enforced disappearances”, by…

Daily World News Digest 19 February 2020

Nepal: Commission on Enforced Disappearance resumes work

The MyRepublica news portal from Nepal reports that the country’s Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons (CIEDP) has resumed work, following a disruption caused by the retirement of previous commissioners in April 2019. A CIEDP spokesperson said the new Commissioners “will revisit files” that have already been prepared as well as initiating new investigations. He said an additional “DNA testing committee” has been formed.

Colombia: missing children

According to LAFM, Colombia’s Unit for the Search of Persons reported as Disappeared (UBPD) says it has received 163 requests to search for children and adolescents who were allegedly recruited into the internal armed conflict in different regions of the country (Original article in Spanish).

Colombia: human remains found

Elespectador reports on the discovery of unidentified human remains at a mass grave in Antioquia in northwestern Colombia, bringing the total number of victims found…

Daily World News Digest 18 February 2020

Enforced disappearances in the MENA region

Amnesty International’s latest report on human rights in the Middle East and North Africa has found, among other things, “widespread patterns of violations by security forces in the context of the criminal justice system, including torture and other ill-treatment and enforced disappearances, most notably in Egypt, Iran, Libya, Saudi Arabia and Syria.”

Syria: mass grave found east of Damascus

The Syrian government says a mass grave containing around 70 sets of human remains has been found in Duma, east of Damascus, in an area that was controlled by armed anti-regime groups until April 2018, ANSA Med reports. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the bodies found are those of civilians and government soldiers.

Malta: migrant rescue

The Times of Malta reports on operations by the Maltese navy in a situation characterized by large numbers of unseaworthy migrant vessels. Following the rescue of…