ICMP DG on International Day of the Disappeared: End the Double Standard!

States are legally responsible for investigating missing persons cases, and they are responsible for securing the rights of all families of the missing to justice, truth and reparations.

The Hague, 28 August 2020: World leaders must end the double standard on missing persons, International Commission on Missing Persons Director-General Kathryne Bomberger said ahead of the International Day of the Disappeared, recognized worldwide on 30 August.

States are legally responsible for investigating missing persons cases, and they are responsible for securing the rights of all families of the missing to justice, truth and reparations. These rights are non-negotiable and certainly do not depend on the income level, nationality, skin color, gender, ethnicity or religion of the missing persons and their families. They are the rights of the poor as well as the rich, of minority groups as well as majority groups. And they are the rights of women as well as men.”

Ms. Bomberger said in an op-ed published today in the European Observer.

“With huge numbers of missing persons around the world – in Syria, in Iraq, in…

ICMP assists Serbia in excavation of mass grave near Raška

Raška, Serbia 30 November 2020 – Experts from the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) today began providing technical forensic assistance at the request of Serbia’s Government Commission on Missing Persons at the exhumation of skeletal remains at the disused Kizevak quarry near Raska in southern Serbia.

The site is believed to hold remains of Kosovo Albanians missing from the 1999 conflict. Authorities have used ICMP DNA-matching reports to identify more than 2,500 of the 4,500 people estimated missing from the Kosovo conflict.

In 2015, supporting the Serbian Commission on Missing Persons, ICMP monitored the initial phase of the excavation at the Kizevak site. However, no human remains were found at that time. Efforts to locate the gravesite continued iteratively until earlier this month when the Serbian Commission found skeletal remains at the site with the help of aerial imagery.

ICMP has since 2001 provided technical forensic assistance to exhume four Kosovo…

Sweden continues to support work of ICMP in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Sarajevo November 19 2020 – A new grant of SEK 9 million (€870,000) from Sweden enables the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) to continue supporting Bosnia and Herzegovina (BIH) authorities’ efforts to account for missing persons and secure the rights of families .

“Sweden’s support to ICMP over the years has contributed to identifying missing persons in Bosnia and Herzegovina, bringing clarity to families and friends about the fate of their loved ones, and bringing justice to victims,” said Johanna Strömquist, Sweden’s Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina. “Thousands are still missing, and the families need to know. We will continue to support ICMP in assisting local authorities to take on their legal obligations towards them and by that contribute to strengthening the rule of law and the level of trust in the society.”

Through the grant, ICMP will continue its technical support to BIH authorities. This includes assistance in…

ICMP, with EU Support, Continues to Assist Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Authorities’ Work to Find Missing Persons and Secure Rights of All Families

Sarajevo, 13 November 2020 – The European Union will continue their support to International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) ongoing assistance to Bosnia and Herzegovina’s (BiH) authorities in it’s work to locate and identify persons who are still missing from the 1990s conflict. Under the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance, the European Union is providing €3 million to enable continuation of ICMP work over the next three years.

The new funding will enable ICMP to conduct a policy dialogue with the BiH authorities and families of the missing with the goal of building BiH capacities in DNA testing.  ICMP will also continue to assist BiH with forensic expertise, including the recovery of mortal remains from mass and clandestine graves and support in conducting DNA-based identifications.

“The EU’s continuous assistance to the ICMP aims to support their efforts in addressing unresolved fates of missing persons as well as in helping the authorities to fulfil their obligations…

ICMP to Host Online Discussion on Women and Missing Persons in the Syrian Context

The Hague, 9 November 2020 – An online discussion to be hosted by the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) this week seeks to explore the impact of the issue of missing and disappeared persons on Syrian women, and to advance policy discussions that would enable women to assume a greater role in the Syrian missing persons process.

Speakers will include Syrian civil society representatives and other experts who will discuss the challenges that women face as disappeared persons and as relatives of missing persons.

Syrian filmmaker Waad Al-Khatib, whose documentary For Sama won several awards, will discuss the impact of the Syrian conflict on women. Waddad Halawani, President of the Committee of the Abducted and Missing in Lebanon, will share experiences from her organization’s fight to ensure that those who disappeared in Lebanon’s civil war are accounted for.

Estimates cited by the UN in 2019 indicate that over 100,000 persons are…

ICMP supports Iraqi teams in Sinjar to locate and identify victims of Da’esh crimes

Baghdad, Iraq 8 November 2020 — The International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP), along with other international partners, supported Iraqi authorities during recent excavations of several mass graves in the Sinjar area and a campaign to collected information and blood samples from families with missing relatives.

The excavations and the campaign began with a launch event held 24 October and ended 5 November.  Experts from Iraq’s Mass Graves Directorate and Medico-Legal Directorate excavated three mass grave sites in the area, recovering more than 100 bodies. In addition, more than 100 bags of evidence were secured from the sites. The Iraqi experts work on mass grave sites also included technical assessments of new locations.

ICMP and the United Nations Investigative Team to Promote Accountability for Crimes Committed by Da’esh/ISIL (UNITAD) supported the Iraqi experts during the excavation.

Concurrently with the excavation work, Iraqi authorities also collected information from families with missing persons, resulting in…

Colombia’s Vibrant and Diverse Civil Society Organizations Play a Key Role in Supporting the Search for Missing Persons

By Angelica Aparicio and Laura Manrique

Bogota, 29 October 2020 – Civil society organizations (CSOs) and families of the missing are fundamental to Colombia’s efforts to account for missing persons and need support from national authorities and the international community to fulfil their important role.

That was the message delivered by speakers in online discussion hosted this month by the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) and the German Development Cooperation Agency (GIZ).

Discussions during the 13 October event  were based on a recent ICMP report that maps the work of Colombia’s vibrant and diverse civil society organizations, including family associations and other networks that support the Colombian Government in finding the more than 120,000 persons who are estimated missing from Colombia’s more than 50 years of conflict. The event was streamed live and is available on ICMP’s Spanish Facebook page.

The Director of Colombia’s Search Unit for Missing Persons (UBPD), Luz Marina Monzón, praised…

Government of Iraq Resumes Exhumation Activities; Opens Two New Yazidi Mass Graves from ISIL

Sinjar, Iraq 28 October 2020 — After pausing activities due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Iraqi authorities have resumed the exhumations of mass graves, with support from the United Nations Investigative Team to Promote Accountability for Crimes Committed by Da’esh/ISIL (UNITAD) and the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP), and in cooperation with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Yazda Organization.

On Saturday (24/10) Iraqi experts from the Mass Graves Directorate (MGD), under the leadership of Mr. Dia’ Karim Sa’idi, and the Medico-Legal Directorate (MLD), under the leadership of Dr. Zeid Ali Abbas, started exhumations in the mass graves left by ISIL in Solagh and Kojo, Ninewa Governorate.

Representatives of the Government of Iraq, the National Coordination Committee (NCC), the Yazidi community, UNITAD, ICMP, and IOM were in attendance. Also attending were around 300 people, including many relatives of missing persons. The ceremony and operations were held under appropriate protection…

Western Balkans Regional Missing Persons Group Has Resolved 387 Missing Persons Cases Since July 2019

Belgrade 26 October 2020: Meeting in Belgrade last week, the Missing Persons Group (MPG), which brings together institutions that are responsible for addressing the issue of missing persons in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Montenegro and Serbia, adopted the MPG annual report, which notes that the group’s collective work has led to the identification of the remains of 387 persons who were missing from the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia.

The report, which covers July 2019 to November 2020, will be presented in the context of the Berlin Process summit later this year.

“Since July last year, the MPG has closed 387 missing persons cases, and each identification has been recorded in the Regional Database of active missing persons cases,” Matthew Holliday, the Head of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP’s) Western Balkans Program, said at this week’s meeting. “This shows tangible progress despite the challenges the region is facing.”

In…

MEDIA ADVISORY: EXHUMATION OF MASS GRAVES IN SINJAR AND KOJO

WHO: Martyr’s Foundation, Mass Graves Directorate, Medico Legal Directorate, UNITAD, ICMP, IOM, in coordination with the Yazidi community

WHAT: Exhumation of mass graves in Solagh and Kojo

WHEN: 24 October 2020, at 11 a.m.

WHERE: Solagh, Sinjar, Ninewa Governorate

 

In August 2014 the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) launched a deadly assault on Sinjar, Ninewa Governorate, overrunning Sinjar City and its surrounding areas. In Solagh subdistrict, ISIL militants committed mass killings of Yazidi women, and buried them in a mass grave. The remains from two such graves will be exhumed to then be matched, based on DNA sampling, with surviving family members. Authorities will return remains that are eventually identified to their families, giving them the opportunity to finally lay their loved ones to rest, appropriately and according to traditions.

The Iraqi Council of Ministers’ National Coordination Committee, along with the Mass Grave Directorate, Medico Legal Directorate, UNITAD, ICMP and IOM Iraq, invite you to cover…

ICMP Assesses Libya’s Capacity to Address Missing Persons, With Dutch and U.S. Support

The Hague, 21 October 2020 – The International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) recently began assessing Libya’s institutional, legal and technical capacities to address the issue of disappeared and other missing persons in a project that aims to lay the foundations for a sustainable process to account for missing persons.

The assessment includes mapping of stakeholders, civil society organizations and families of the missing.

Libya has a legacy of persons missing from the Muammar Gaddafi era, including wars with neighboring countries, the conflicts of 2011, the ongoing so-called “Second Libyan Civil War,” which began in 2014, as well as cases of missing migrants and refugees.

The ICMP assessment includes a review of activities undertaken so far in relation to recently discovered mass graves in Tarhuna and elsewhere in Libya. The discovery of these graves underlines the need for effective investigations of missing persons cases that can lead to accountability.

Libya currently has limited…