Posts Categorized: News

Missing Persons Group enhances efforts to account for the remaining missing persons

Sarajevo 16 May 2024: The Missing Persons Group (MPG), established at the Western Balkans Berlin Process summit in London, as a group of institutions tasked with resolving the issue of missing persons in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Montenegro, and Serbia presented its efforts and achievements to date outlining the importance of the regional cooperation in resolving the remaining missing persons cases in the countries of former Yugoslavia.

“In the Western Balkans, roughly 75 percent of the 40,000 persons reported missing during the conflicts of the 1990s have been accounted for. Regional cooperation has been a cornerstone of this unprecedented result. Continued and enhanced work of the MPG together with families of the missing is crucial in resolving the remaining missing persons cases and upholding the rights of the families to truth and justice”, said Matthew Holliday, ICMP Program Director, Europe.

“The UK Government is committed to supporting efforts to identify…

Missing Persons in Ukraine: Lessons from Bosnia and Herzegovina

Sarajevo, 26 April 2024 – A group of family representatives and civil society activists from Ukraine have completed a week-long visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina (BIH) hosted by the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP). The visit is part of a program to support the development of an effective system to account for tens of thousands of people who are missing as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The study visit included meetings with officials from the BIH Missing Persons Institute, the Ministry for Human Rights and Refugees, and the War Crimes Prosecutor’s Office.

“ICMP is committed to helping Ukrainian civil society to build a sustainable process to locate all missing persons and investigate their disappearance and secure the rights of all families to truth, justice, and reparations,” said Matthew Holliday, ICMP Program Director Europe, noting that strategies that have succeeded in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Western Balkans can…

Immediate Action Must be Taken to Protect Mass Graves in Gaza

The Hague, 24 April 2024: The UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR) and major international media this week reported the discovery of mass graves at the Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis, central Gaza, and the Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City.

Mass graves contain critical evidence for establishing the truth about events that have taken place. Proper investigations must adhere to rigorous scientific and judicial standards, ensuring that forensic processes – including forensic archaeology and anthropology – are meticulously implemented to recover and document human remains and evidence. In cases where war crimes have been committed, these processes make it possible to bring perpetrators to justice.

Immediate measures must be taken to protect and document locations where mass graves have been reported in Gaza. The International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) stands ready to support all efforts to protect and investigate mass graves and reliably identify human remains.

Accounting for the missing is an…

Families of the Missing from former Yugoslavia Urge Regional Governments And the International Community to Maintain Their Support

The Hague, 19 April 2024 – This week at the Headquarters of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) in The Hague, associations of families of the missing from the Western Balkans, together with ICMP, organized an extraordinary session of the Forum of the Families (FoF).

Participants reflected on progress that has been made in implementing the Framework Plan agreed in November 2018 by the responsible institutions from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Montenegro and Serbia to boost cooperation and increase effectiveness in accounting for missing persons throughout the region; and they made preparations for future activities, including raising awareness among regional and international stakeholders on the urgent need to maintain efforts to account for the remaining missing persons.

Participants expressed concern that current political dynamics in the Western Balkans are hindering the work of the Missing Persons Group (MPG), which comprises domestic institutions from the region that work on this…

ICMP and Partners in Vietnam Launch ODA Project Improving the Capability of Identification of Human Remains from War

Hanoi, 12 April 2024: The Institute of Biotechnology-Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology (IBT-VAST), in coordination with the International Commissions on Missing Persons (ICMP), has launched an ODA project to improve Vietnam’s capacity to identify human remains from war. The two-year project is supported with funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

ICMP will help IBT-VAST to develop advanced DNA extraction methods and Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) technology to extract DNA profiles from highly degraded bone samples in Vietnam. These methods will be supported by data analysis tools, with the goal of establishing an automated system to process a large number of samples. The project is part of the cooperation framework between the Governments of Vietnam and the United States to overcome the consequences of war, as specified in a Memorandum of Intention (MOI) signed by USAID and the Vietnam Agency for Seeking Missing Persons (VNOSMP) in…

ICMP Visits Canada and Releases Interim Report

21 March 2024, Ottawa, Unceded Algonquin Territory, Ontario: Canada can take effective steps to support First Nations, Metis, and Inuit rights holders as they seek justice and accountability for the death or disappearance of children in the former Indian Residential School System, Kathryne Bomberger, the Director-General of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP), said today.

Ms Bomberger was speaking at the presentation of an Interim Report on the work of ICMP’s program to help Indigenous communities in Canada find their missing children. She said ICMP can assist the stakeholders “in a process to establish the fate and whereabouts of children who went missing, and work with families and Canadian authorities to secure truth and justice, which are a prerequisite for reconciliation.”

The Interim Report on Missing Children and Unmarked Burials covers work carried out by ICMP in Canada between January 2023 and March 2024 and recommends next steps. The…

Tens of Thousands are Missing From the War Two Years On, the Case for Assisting Ukraine Is Stronger than Ever

Photo Credit: Krysja

Marking the second anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the Commissioners and Director-General of the International Commission on Missing persons issued the following statement:

24 February 2024Tens of thousands of people have disappeared as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Men and women have gone missing on the battlefield and in the mass movement of citizens in the spring of 2022; civilians have disappeared in the rubble of towns fought over to the point of complete destruction; victims of arbitrary arrest in occupied territory are unaccounted for, and children have been illegally deported and adopted under opaque circumstances by families in Russia.

Ukraine has recognized that accounting for the missing is an essential part of upholding the rule of law. It has done this at a time when it is facing an existential threat. That the country is pursuing a law-based strategy to account for its…

How ICMPs Expertise and Support Helped in Resolving a Complex Case of the Identification of the Missing Military Man

Kyiv, 21 February, 2024 – Olha Bashynska’s son, Yuriy, went missing in March 2022 in the northern outskirts of Kyiv, where he was serving in the army. Determined to find out what happened to her son, Olha travelled to the place where Yuriy’s unit had been deployed and where multiple casualties had been reported. She painstakingly unearthed, sorted, and gathered heavily charred bones and then insisted that the authorities attempt to extract DNA profiles from them. When these attempts failed, due to extensive damage to the bones, Olha didn’t give up. She contacted Tetiana Sadovska, a lawyer working on behalf of military families, and together they explored options for extending the investigation into the disappearance of Yuriy and others in his unit.

Tetiana suggested that the authorities invite the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) to take bone samples from human remains stored at the mortuary of the Bureau of…

Norway Supports Efforts to Find Missing And Disappeared Persons from the War in Ukraine 

Oslo, 10 February: Norway will support the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) in its work to assist Ukraine in locating missing persons and investigating their disappearance. Under a three-year, NOK 100 million (roughly 9,365,000 USD) project, ICMP will expand its efforts to help Ukraine address the growing number of missing persons from the on-going war and help to ensure that this work is done in such a way that in coming years it will be possible to present evidence in court and bring perpetrators to justice.

Tens of thousands of people have gone missing in Ukraine as a consequence of the Russian invasion. In addition to atrocities such as summary execution, forcible deportation, incommunicado detention, kidnapping and abduction, disappearances have resulted from mass displacement and family separation, including unlawful adoptions and human trafficking.

At the invitation of the Government of Ukraine, ICMP is helping the authorities to develop a sustainable…

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…