Yearly Archives: 2022

Families of the Missing from the Western Balkans Strengthen Cooperation through New Regional Coordination Network

Sarajevo, 17 March 2022 – On Tuesday in Sarajevo, family associations of missing persons from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Montenegro and Serbia signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) establishing the Regional Coordination Network.

“This MoU reaffirms the commitment of the family associations to working together to secure truth, justice and reparations through a mechanism in which all families and all associations have equal rights and duties,” said Kathryne Bomberger, the Director-General of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP).

Director-General Bomberger described the agreement as “historic” and she said “Ensuring coordination of family associations from all across the region and enabling them to hold governments accountable to conduct credible investigations is key to ensuring that the remaining missing persons are accounted for.”

ICMP has spearheaded the regional effort that has made it possible to account for more than 70 percent of those who went missing during the conflicts of the 1990s,…

ICMP Presents Human Identification Methods at Forensic Training For Syrian Families of the Missing and Civil Society Organizations

The Hague, 15 March 2022: ICMP has presented a series of three training sessions to civil society organizations (CSOs) and families of the missing in Northeast Syria. The training, which concluded yesterday, introduced scientific methods to facilitate the location and identification of missing persons, with a focus on forensic processes and safeguarding forensic evidence.

The 60 participants learned about the role of families and CSOs in finding and reporting mass graves, familiarization with ICMP’s Online Inquiry Center, safeguarding mass graves, and risk assessments when safeguarding mass graves. Participants applied knowledge gained during the training by using the Carana missing persons simulation developed by ICMP.

“The role of families is central in an effective missing persons process,” said the Head of ICMP’s Syria/MENA Program, Lena Alhusseini. “Families must be actively engaged in securing their rights to justice, truth and reparations, and the work we have been doing through these courses is designed…

ICMP-Facilitated Syrian Policy Coordination Group Releases Paper on Future Missing Persons Legislation

Photo from previous PCG meeting.

The Hague, 11 March 2022: The Policy Coordination Group (PCG), a Syrian-led initiative on the missing and disappeared facilitated by the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP), released a paper at an event this week on proposed legislation designed to support a process of finding missing persons from the Syria conflict1. It is hoped that such legislation would be considered in the context of future deliberations on a political settlement.  The proposed legislation also addresses measures to secure the rights of victims and their families.

“The proposed law is a step forward in the process of ensuring that the rights of missing persons, survivors, and their families are safeguarded in a future Syria,” said the Head of ICMP’s Syria/MENA Program, Lena Alhusseini.

During its session this week, the PCG also discussed a draft paper on investigations related to mass graves in Syria. This paper proposes measures that would help to identify the…

Strategic measures for an effective missing persons process in Iraq

In July 2018, ICMP produced a document outlining strategic measures for an effective missing persons process in Iraq. These options were developed during workshops with representatives of Iraqi institutions and civil society in 2019 and 2020. Iraqi government representatives discussed a final draft five-year strategy based on the options, at a conference hosted by ICMP in The Hague from 28 August to 1 September 2021.

At the 2021 conference, consensus was reached on 12 conclusions that form the basis for a comprehensive strategy, include creating a central mechanism and adopting a national plan, improving data management and data protection, ensuring state funding for the process, strengthening the role and capacity of civil society, upholding the rights of survivors, particularly women and bringing perpetrators to justice.

ICMP proposes the following steps to be discussed by Iraqi institutional representatives and Iraqi civil society to develop such a strategy.

[ALBANIAN LANGUAGE] ICMP dhe autoritetet e Kosovës bien dakord mbi hapat për të shqyrtuar mbetjet e paidentifikuara njerëzore në morgun e Prishtinës

Hagë: 4 mars 2022 – Këtë javë, një delegacion i përfaqësuesve të institucioneve të Kosovës që punojnë në çështjen e personave të zhdukur ka vizituar selinë e Komisionit Ndërkombëtar për Personat e Zhdukur (ICMP) për të diskutuar masat për zgjerimin e procesit të llogaridhënies së personave të zhdukur nga konflikti në Kosovë.

Delegacioni i Kosovës i përbërë nga përfaqësues të Ministrisë së Drejtësisë, Komisionit Qeveritar për Personat e Zhdukur dhe Institutit për Mjekësi Ligjore diskutoi bashkëpunimin në ndërmarrjen e një shqyrtimi të plotë të procesit teknik të zhvilluar në Kosovë gjatë dy dekadave të fundit, dhe forcimin e bashkëpunimit rajonal nëpërmjet Grupit të Personave të Zhdukur.

Kathryne Bomberger, Drejtore e Përgjithshme e ICMP-së theksoi rëndësinë e shqyrtimit të ardhshëm teknik të rasteve të paidentifikuara në morgun e Institutit për Mjekësi Ligjore të Kosovës (IML), si dhe rritjen e kapaciteteve të IML-së në lidhje me administrimin dhe analizimin e të dhënave mbi…

ICMP and Kosovo Authorities Agree on the Steps to Review the Unidentified Human Remains in Pristina Mortuary

The Hague: 9 March 2022 – Last week, a delegation of representatives of Kosovo institutions that work on the issue of missing persons has visited the Headquarters of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) to discuss measures to enhance the process of accounting for missing persons from the Kosovo conflict.

The Kosovo delegation comprised of representatives of the Ministry of Justice, the Government Commission on Missing Persons, and the Institute for Forensic Medicine discussed cooperation in undertaking a thorough review of the technical process conducted in Kosovo over the last two decades, and strengthening the regional cooperation through the Missing Persons Group.

Kathryne Bomberger, the Director-General of the ICMP emphasized the importance of the forthcoming technical review of unidentified cases in the Institute for Forensic Medicine of Kosovo (IFM) mortuary, as well as increasing the capacities of the IFM with regards to managing and analyzing data on missing persons cases.


In the Global Context of Missing and Disappeared Persons, Women are Victims and Survivors

The Hague, 8 March 2022: As world attention is captured by the escalating conflict in Ukraine, it is important to highlight a major consequence of war and a grave human rights violation: missing and disappeared persons.  This issue has a particular impact on women.

The images from Ukraine, mirror those from Syria, the former Yugoslavia, Colombia and many other areas where conflict is ongoing or has taken place around the world: women and children are forced to flee their homeland, while mostly men stay behind to fight.  This results in a higher number of deaths among men and a higher number of men who go missing, or are disappeared, either as a result of the conflict or from human rights abuses, or both.  And this, in turn, means that women constitute the majority of survivors.

Women are also targeted as victims of abductions and disappearances by military forces, and subject to…

Act Now to Save Lives and Prevent Migrants From Going Missing

7 March 2022 – Thousands of migrants go missing or die each year along migration routes. In 2018, United Nations Member States committed to “save lives and establish coordinated international efforts on missing migrants” by adopting the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM). Four years and more than 15,000 documented deaths later, efforts to provide a meaningful response to this ongoing human tragedy cannot be put off any further.

As heads of the United Nations Network on Migration’s Executive Committee, the International Committee of the Red Cross and the International Federation of Red Cross, Red Crescent Societies and the International Commission on Missing Persons, we call on States to urgently assume collective responsibility to save lives and prevent migrants from going missing or dying along migration routes and to search for and identify those who have gone missing and to assist their families. This is in line with…

ICMP-Facilitated Syrian Policy Coordination Group Discusses Draft Missing Persons Law

The Hague, 28 January 2022: At its 7th meeting today, the Policy Coordination Group (PCG), a Syrian-led initiative on the missing and disappeared facilitated by the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP), discussed a draft Missing Persons Law drafted by the PCG, that can enable a sustainable and just process to account for the missing in Syria.

The law provides for systematic steps that are necessary to account for missing persons; it also stipulates measures to uphold the rights of families of the missing and ensure that they receive material and moral support.

More than 130,000 persons are estimated to be missing in Syria as a result of the conflict. In addition, the country has a legacy of missing and disappeared persons cases linked to human rights abuses and other causes prior to the conflict, and thousands of Syrians who have fled the fighting have gone missing…

Albanian Family Associations and Non-Governmental Organizations Enhance Cooperation to Address the Issue of Persons Missing During the Communist Era

Tirana, 25 January 2022 – Nine Albanian Family Associations (FAs) and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to work collaboratively to address the issue of persons missing during the communist era in Albania as the result of the systematic violations of human rights from the former communist regime.

All nine signatories of the Memorandum of Understanding are beneficiaries of ICMP’s small grants program in Albania, which was funded by the European Union and the Swiss Government in 2020-2021.

It is estimated that around 6,000 persons went missing under the communist regime in Albania in the period between 1944 and 1991. According to official data, 5,501 persons convicted for political reasons were executed extrajudicially during this period. Their bodies were never returned to their families. Official data also indicates that an additional 987 political prisoners died from various causes in prisons and detention centers in Albania. The whereabouts…