Monthly Archives: March 2020

Children in southwestern Colombia whose family members are missing learn about human rights through art and play 

By Mariana Lersundy

Bogota, 30 March 2020: It was children’s play with a purpose. Guided by the Colombian non-governmental organization Association for the Integral Development of Victim, 40 children whose family members are missing used art and play to learn about a pre-colonial chieftain, human rights and disappearances. 

The project was supported by the International Commission on Missing Persons through its small grants program. In Colombia, ICMP has provided 20 civil society organizations with grants worth more than a total of 300,000 US dollars to facilitate the search, location and identification processes, and to support families with missing family members. 

For the children and youth taking part in the project in Pasto, southwestern Colombia, family life often revolves around the search for missing family members. The project brought them together to play, share experiences and learn. Organizers chose to focus…

Covid-19: ICMP adjust operations, continues work to help States account for the missing

The Hague – 23 March 2020: The International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) has adapted is operations due to the Covid-19 pandemic, with most staff telecommuting as they work to ensure that the rights of missing persons and families are respected.  

Staff in the ICMP Headquarters in The Hague, Netherlands, and in programs around the world are mostly working from home, to reduce dissemination of the virus in line with instructions from local health authorities. Meetings and events that were planned for the immediate future have been postponed or shifted to a virtual format.  

“Accounting for the missing is an investment in peace and stability and an indispensable global commitment, even in these times,” said ICMP Director-General Kathryne Bomberger. “We continue our work to ensure that states fulfil their responsibility to…

Mexican Scientists work on challenging missing persons cases in collaboration with ICMP 

The Hague, 20 March 2020: Three Mexican Forensic experts from the state of Nuevo Leon, working together with scientists from the International Commission on Missing Persons at the ICMP laboratory in The Hague, Netherlands, have successfully obtained DNA results from challenging post-mortem samples of missing persons.  The results were obtained as part of a scientific exchange during which the Mexican experts also strengthened their skills in DNA extraction and genetic testing methods.

The experts from the Institute of Criminalistics and Expert Services, of the Office of the Prosecutor General of the State of Nuevo Leon, explored novel methods to extract and analyze DNA from highly deteriorated skeletal remains during their 9-17 March visit to the ICMP headquarters, which includes a state-of-the-art, high-throughput DNA laboratory. The exchange, organized through the ICMP’s Wim Kok Center for Excellence and Learning, is part of a USAID-funded project the ICMP is implementing with the civil society…

ICMP supports Iraqi authorities in uncovering mass grave near Badoush Prison linked to 2014 Da’esh crimes

March 19, 2020 – The International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) is supporting Iraq’s National Team in fieldwork to locate and recover human remains and to document criminal evidence from a mass grave near the Badoush prison.

Forensic work at the site, where Da’esh allegedly massacred hundreds of prisoners in 2014, began 7 March. Experts from Iraq’s Mass Graves Directorate and Medico-Legal Directorate, supported by ICMP, mapped the area and recovered human remains of the site. The team suspended its work on 16 March following the Iraqi government’s decision to restrict movement to prevent the spread of the Corona virus. The site – a shallow ravine- is being safeguarded, and forensic work, including excavations, will resume when the situation allows.

“It is a complex site because the human remains are dispersed over a large area, but the work was going well until it had to be halted due to Covid-19,” said…

Support for female leadership and engagement focus of ICMP DG’s 2020 International Gender Champion Commitments

The Hague, 9 March 2020 – ICMP Director-General Kathryne Bomberger has committed to ensuring that all ICMP global programs will promote female leadership and engagement. This effort, part of her 2020 International Gender Champion commitments, aims to support women whose relatives have gone missing, so that they can become strong human rights advocates and work to secure their rights.

“As an International Gender Champion, I will strive to reduce the plight of women survivors of atrocities.  Silence has long surrounded the issue of missing persons, likely because those left behind tend to be women and children, while most of those who go missing from war, human rights abuses, organized crime and irregular migration are men,” she said.

“Many women don’t report missing person cases out of fear of reprisals, and many may not be aware of their rights, including the right to a proper investigation.”

She noted that ICMP raises global…

Building Skills: Syrian Stakeholders Learn About Missing Persons Process


The Hague, 6 March 2020: Representatives of civil society organizations involved in Syria learned about the missing persons process in a learning and development program organized by the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) through its newly launched ICMP Wim Kok Center of Excellence and Learning.

The new learning program uses a simulation exercise to teach scientists, judges, prosecutors, academics, families of the missing and civil society organizations about the process of locating and identifying missing persons, from reporting a missing person to locating a missing person.  The program also helps “first responders” learn about the importance of documenting the location of irregular gravesites.

Participants in the 27 February simulation exercise learned about each aspect of the missing persons process and the need for securing and centralizing relevant data so that missing persons can be found. The simulation underlined the importance of an integrated system that collects and shares relevant information.