Yearly Archives: 2023

With Support from the EU and the Government of Canada, ICMP Completes 2nd Phase of DNA Data Collection Campaign for Ukrainian Families of Missing in Europe

Kyiv, 13 December 2023 – The International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) has completed the second phase of a campaign that enables Ukrainian refugees residing in Europe to provide genetic reference samples voluntarily, to help locate relatives missing in Ukraine as a result of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. The campaign was supported by the European Union Service for Foreign Policy Instruments (FPI) and the Government of Canada.

The latest phase of the campaign took place in Poland and Germany in November and December. A total of 165 DNA reference samples were provided by Ukrainian families during the one-week campaign. In addition to genetic data, family members also provided data about themselves and their missing loved ones, including the location where the missing person was last seen and the circumstances of the disappearance.

Iulia Bogutska, daughter of a soldier who has been missing since the spring of 2023, provided a blood sample…

With support from the EU and the United States Department of State, ICMP Makes Donation to Ukrainian Institutions To Support Efforts to Account for Missing Persons

12 December 2023, Kyiv – The International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) has announced a donation of material and equipment to the value of EUR 225,000 to support efforts to account for missing persons as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This donation has been made possible by the generous financial support of the European Union Service for Foreign Policy Instruments (FPI) and the US State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Rights, and Labor (DRL), and highlights the shared commitment of international organizations to address the challenges arising from Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine.

The donation will facilitate the application of state-of-the-art DNA human identification techniques and is consistent with ICMP’s recent signing of cooperation agreements with the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine.

Mykola Shevchuk, the Head of the Lviv Oblast Rada Communal Enterprise of the Lviv Oblast Bureau of Forensic Expertise said the…

Securing the Rights of Families of the Missing and Disappeared Is Fundamental to Upholding Human Rights and the Rule of Law

The Hague, 10 December 2023: – The numbers of missing and disappeared persons around the world are on the rise due to global warming, increased conflict and migration. This year marks the 75th anniversary of the of the acceptance of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations General Assembly.  To commemorate this historic event, the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) has organized a series of events highlighting the rights of missing persons and their families to truth, justice and reparations.

“When people go missing as a result of conflict or political repression or irregular migration, multiple human rights abuses are likely to be involved,” ICMP Chairperson Knut Vollebaek and ICMP Director-General Kathryne Bomberger said in a Statement published today. “A legal obligation is triggered on the part of the State to conduct effective investigations that are official, impartial, prompt, and transparent and deploy means capable…

Human Rights Are Not an Added Option

Statement by ICMP Chairperson Knut Vollebaek and ICMP Director-General Kathryne Bomberger on the occasion of International Human Rights Day, 10 December 2023

Governments have the right to implement policy but they have an obligation to do this according to the law, an obligation that extends to treaties and conventions signed by their predecessors. Of course, laws can be changed and countries can withdraw from international agreements – but as long as the legal framework is in place, it must be followed.

This is crucial in situations where people go missing: when this happens as a result of conflict or political repression or irregular migration, multiple human rights abuses are likely to be involved. A legal obligation is triggered on the part of the State to conduct effective investigations that are official, impartial, prompt, and transparent and deploy means capable of establishing the facts.

Abuses may include violations of the right to security and…

ICMP Completes 3rd DNA Reference Collection Campaign From Syrian Families Living in Europe

The Hague, 1 December 2023 – The International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) has completed the third phase of a campaign that enables Syrian families of the missing who are residing as refugees in Europe to provide genetic reference samples voluntarily, to help locate relatives missing either in Syria as a result of the conflict, or along migration routes after fleeing the conflict. The most recent campaign took place in Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxemburg during November 2023.

A total of 123 DNA samples were provided by Syrian families during the two-week campaign. In addition, family members provided data about themselves and their missing loved ones, including the location where they were last seen and the circumstances of the disappearance. To date, ICMP has collected data from more than 75,000 families of the missing who have reported 27,000 missing persons from Syria.  Genetic reference samples are only collected by ICMP…

ICMP Conference of States Parties Discusses Strategy To Address Global Challenge of Missing Persons

The Hague, 16 November: Representatives of states and organizations that support and cooperate with the International Commission on Missing persons (ICMP) gathered today at ICMP’s Headquarters in The Hague for the 9th meeting of the ICMP Conference of States Parties Financial Committee and the fourth meeting of the ICMP Conference of States Parties (CSP).

Today’s meetings were chaired by Germany’s Ambassador to the Netherlands Dr. Cyrill Nunn, as Germany has assumed the presidency of the CSP, taking over from the United Kingdom.

ICMP Director-General Kathryne Bomberger briefed the CSP on ICMP’s programs and the evolving nature of the global challenge of missing persons. Among other countries, she cited Ukraine, where “the authorities are trying to develop a missing persons process based on the rule of law, whereby evidence collected in investigations will be able to be presented in court. This is an unprecedented endeavor by a country at war.”

Ms Bomberger also…

Iraqi Institutions Collaborate with ICMP to Collect DNA Reference Samples From Iraqi Yazidi Families of the Missing Residing in Germany

Stuttgart, 15 November 2023:  The International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) has conducted a joint Pilot Project with the Medico-Legal Directorate (MLD) of the Iraqi Ministry of Health and the Directorate for Protection and Affairs of Mass Graves (MGD) of the Iraqi Martyrs’ Foundation to collect DNA reference samples from Iraqi Yazidi families of the missing residing in Germany.

The DNA Pilot Project, which is the first of its kind, took place in Stuttgart, Germany, from 4 to 12 November and resulted in the collection of more than 200 reference samples. ICMP organized the effort, which allowed the relevant Iraqi authorities to collect the data in Germany for the purpose of identifying the large number of victims of Da’esh atrocities.

“Using a DNA-led identification process is critical, not only to the identification of a missing person, but to linking the identity to the scene of the crime,” said ICMP Director-General Kathryne…

(Albanian)Një vit më pas, baza e përbashkët e të dhënave të Ballkanit Perëndimor mbetet vendimtare Për përpjekjet rajonale për të gjetur të zhdukurit

Photo from the launch of the Regional Database in The Hague, November 3, 2022.

Hagë, 3 nëntor 2023: Sot shënohet njëvjetori i lançimit  të Databazës Rajonale të rasteve aktive të personave të zhdukur nga konfliktet në territorin e ish-Jugosllavisë. Baza e të dhënave u lançua nga Grupi i Personave të Zhdukur të Ballkanit Perëndimor (GPZH), i cili përbëhet nga Krerët dhe përfaqësues të tjerë të lartë të institucioneve nga Bosnja dhe Hercegovina, Kroacia, Kosova, Mali i Zi dhe Serbia që janë përgjegjës për llogaridhenjen e personave të zhdukur. GPZH u krijua me mbështetjen e Komisionit Ndërkombëtar për Personat e Zhdukur (ICMP) në nëntor 2018.

Databaza Rajonale u siguron anëtarëve të GPZH-së një platformë moderne softuerike për shkëmbimin e të dhënave në kohë reale dhe familjeve të të zhdukurve me informacione të sakta dhe të përditësuara mbi rastet e personave të zhdukur nga konfliktet në ish-Jugosllavi. Pavarësisht nga sfidat politike, bashkëpunimi i vazhdueshëm midis institucioneve vendase në rajon ka qenë vendimtar në ruajtjen e…

One Year on, Western Balkans Shared Database Remains Crucial to Regional Efforts to Find the Missing

Photo from the launch of the Regional Database in The Hague, November 3, 2022.

The Hague, 3 November 2023: Today marks the one-year anniversary of the launch of the Regional Database of active missing persons cases from conflicts on the territory of former Yugoslavia. The Database was launched by the Western Balkans Missing Persons Group (MPG), which comprises Heads and other senior representatives of institutions from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Montenegro and Serbia that are responsible for accounting for missing persons. The MPG was established with the support of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) in November 2018.

The Regional Database provides the MPG members with a modern software platform for the exchange of data in real time data and families of the missing with accurate and up-to-date information on missing persons cases from the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia. Despite political challenges, enduring cooperation among domestic institutions in the region has been instrumental in maintaining this vital resource.

“The Regional Database,…

ICMP and Yazda Global Organization Sign Memorandum of Understanding

Iraq, 31 October 2023: – The International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) and Yazda Global Organization, a prominent community-led NGO that works to provide humanitarian aid and justice to survivors of Da’esh, particularly the Yazidi community, today signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) formalizing cooperation to support families of missing persons in Iraq.

The MoU prioritizes joint initiatives, including providing assistance to an Iraqi government-led reference sample collection campaign designed to identify human remains exhumed from mass graves. Both parties will also work to ensure that families of the missing are fully informed about their rights to truth, justice and reparations.

ICMP Director-General Kathryne Bomberger said today’s MoU “underscores our collective mission to come together and assist families of the missing. The search for missing persons is a state obligation and a state-led activity, but it must have families at its core.” She expressed confidence that the ICMP-Yazda collaboration “will be…