Yearly Archives: 2020

Former FARC guerrillas search for missing persons

By Mariana Lersundy
Bogota, Colombia, 15 May 2020: As members of FARC guerillas, they were involved in Colombia’s civil war. Now, as members of the FARC Commission for the Search of Disappeared Persons, they contribute to peace by supporting the country’s work to account for the large number of people who are missing as a consequence of more than five decades of conflict.

The commission, a civil society organization created in the framework of the 2016 Peace Accords, focuses on documenting and collecting information regarding missing persons. Earlier this year, members of the commission took part in training at the ICMP Bogota office, learning how to strengthen their organization and how to use a special, ICMP-developed software that can manage and analyze data on missing persons and those who are searching for them. Commission members also have taken part in other ICMP workshops and training on data issues….

Online Policy Discussion on Syrian Missing Persons Looks at Options for Future Process

Photo: Families for Freedom

30 April 2020 – How a future, post-conflict Syria could handle the challenge posed by large number of Syrians who are missing is the focus of a series of online policy discussions on the Syrian situation organized by the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP).

The second segment of the weekly series, held 29 April 2020, focused on missing persons institutions and legislation. The online series forms part of a set of Roundtable discussions hosted by ICMP to bring Syrian civil society organizations and associations of families of the missing together to support them in a process of devising common strategies on the issue of detained and missing persons. International experts and others involved in similar processes elsewhere are also part of the discussions.

Three Roundtables have been held: one in May 2019 in The Hague, one in October and November in Istanbul and one in February 2020 in The Hague. A…

ICMP donates protective equipment to help combat Covid-19 in Bosnia and Herzegovina

The ICMP has donated personal protective equipment to the Ministry of Security of BIH and the IOM

By Saša Kulukčija

Sarajevo, 1 April 2020: The International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) has donated personal protective equipment to the Ministry of Security of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to assist in combating the spread of Covid-19 disease in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

ICMP donated 500 disposable aprons, 1,000 protective suits and 3,000 disposable gloves to the Ministry of Security, which will use the material to keep its staff safe as they implement measures to limit the spread of the virus. The IOM BIH plans to use the 200 protective suits donated by ICMP to adhere to the health and safety instructions aimed at containing the Covid-19 pandemic when working in migrant centers in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

“We hope this modest donation from our stocks will help the authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina and those working with the vulnerable migrant population stem the spread of the virus,”…

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.


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…