(This article appeared in New Scientist)
Bringing Radovan Karadzic to book for his part in war crimes in the former Yugoslavia included groundbreaking use of mass DNA evidence, says Thomas John Parsons.
Radovan Karadzic is beginning a 40-year sentence after being found guilty of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in the former Yugoslavia. It marks the end of a trial that began in 2010 at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.
Prominent among the former Bosnian Serb leader’s offences during the Bosnian conflict was his role in the Srebrenica genocide, in which 8,000 Bosniak (muslim) men and boys were executed over four days in July 1995.
Identifying victims was a crucial part of ensuring justice was done. Forensic work connected with this conflict became the largest DNA identification project the world had seen, carried out by the International Commission on Missing Persons…
25 March 2016: On 21 and 22 March, ICMP personnel together with partners from the relevant authorities, placed fences and warning signs around the main mass gravesites in Sinjar. This is the first time that any form of protection has been provided at these sites. The signs indicate that the gravesites should not be entered “in order to protect evidence and the crime scene to safeguard victims’ rights in international courts”.
ICMP has trained more than 550 Iraqi professionals from the various institutions engaged in the process of accounting for the missing, from across sectarian and national lines. It is now training technicians to begin the process of assistance in locating and accounting for missing persons from Sinjar.
25 March 2016: ICMP Director-General Kathryne Bomberger said today that the verdict handed down by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in the case of Radovan Karadzic, following legal proceedings that have lasted for more than seven years, is an important affirmation of the rule of law.
Karadzic was convicted of genocide, crimes against humanity and violations of the laws or customs of war and sentenced to 40 years in prison.
He was convicted of genocide in the area of Srebrenica in 1995, of persecution, extermination, murder, deportation, inhumane acts (forcible transfer), terror, unlawful attacks on civilians and hostage-taking. He was acquitted of the charge of genocide in other municipalities in BiH in 1992.
“Those who killed unarmed civilians, and those who consciously created the circumstances that facilitated these crimes, believed they could erase the identity of their victims permanently. They were wrong,”…
Sarajevo 21 March 2016 – Resolving the issue of missing persons is a key element in sustaining reconciliation and stability throughout the region, Matthew Holliday, the Head of ICMP’s Western Balkans Program, said today during a briefing in Pristina for HRH Prince Charles, who was visiting Kosovo as part of a regional tour.
At the briefing, organized at the Presidency/Assembly Building by the Government Commission on Missing Persons in Kosovo, Prince Charles met members of family associations of the missing, as well as officials and representatives of international organizations.
ICMP has worked to address the issue of missing persons in Kosovo since 1999. Since 2003 it has helped the authorities through DNA-based identifications, working initially with the UN Interim Administration (UNMIC) and since September 2008 with the EU Rule of Law Mission (EULEX). Using DNA, ICMP has helped to identify more than 2,500 of the…
15 March 2016: The International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) and the Guatemalan Forensic Anthropology Foundation (Fundación de Antropología Forense de Guatemala: FAFG) held a roundtable in Trincomalee, Sri Lanka, on Monday to analyze requirements for a systematic and effective process to account for those who are missing as a result of more than 25 years of conflict.
Monday’s event will be followed by a roundtable in Colombo on Thursday. This is part of an initiative organized by a consortium of agencies operating as part of the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience (ICSC). The Roundtables are co-hosted by the Centre for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights (CPPHR) in Trincomalee and the Centre for Human Rights Development (CHRD) in Colombo.
In November, ICMP and FAFG conducted a series of consultations in Sri Lanka…
A UNHCR report on Mixed Maritime Movements in Southeast Asia, released on 23 February, details the unfolding tragedy of Rohingya migrants making the perilous journey south from Bangladesh and western Myanmar in search of security and work.
More than one million Rohingya live in Myanmar, mostly in Rakhine State. In the northern part of the state they form the majority. Following rioting in 2012, as many as 160,000 predominantly Muslim Rohingya (most of whom were denied citizenship under a 1982 law and therefore do not have identity papers) were forced from their homes by predominantly Buddhist ethnic Rakhines. Large numbers fled to Bangladesh; more than 100,000 sought shelter in camps for…
At the beginning of March Colombia’s Ambassador to the Netherlands, Juan Jose Quintana, hosted a meeting of diplomats from the Group of Latin American Countries in The Hague. Participants discussed the issue of missing and disappeared persons in the region.
Countries in Latin America face complex challenges related to accounting for missing persons. Several countries are grappling with issues related to transitional justice as families seek to learn the fate of loved ones who were victims of enforced disappearance under former regimes. In other countries, the rise of narco-trafficking syndicates has fomented an epidemic of disappearances with casualty figures in some cases surpassing those associated with full-scale military conflict. And at the same time, the flow of migrants from Central and South America to North America has fueled a lucrative and shockingly brutal trade in which large numbers of migrants perish at the…
By Lejla Hodzic
More than ten years ago, a UN official described the conflict in Uganda as “the biggest forgotten, neglected humanitarian emergency in the world,” adding that the war in the northern part of the country targeted the civilian population, especially children.
Since its declaration of independence in 1962, Uganda has experienced conflicts among different ethnic, religious and national groups, but the scale of atrocities committed by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) over a period of more than 20 years has been particularly shocking. The LRA insurgency continues – albeit with diminished intensity – today, with children being the principal victims of abductions and forcible conscription.
The LRA came to prominence in the 1980s, one of several rebel movements in Uganda’s economically and politically marginalized north. The group, led by Joseph Kony, began practicing extreme brutality against the Acholi people…
By Bojana Djokanovic
In February 2016, the news portal Spanish News Today reported the exhumation of the remains of Timoteo Mendieta from a mass grave in Guadalajara. The exhumation was ordered by an Argentinian judge. Mendieta was a victim of the Franco regime, killed in the months after the end of the Spanish civil war. His remains, which were found together with those of 19 or 20 other people, were to be removed from the mass grave and, following DNA analysis in Argentina to confirm the identity, were to be buried elsewhere in accordance with the wishes of his daughter.
The Spanish civil war, from 1936 to 1939, ended with the victory of General Francisco Franco’s Nationalist forces, which had received military support from Germany and Italy. The conflict was characterized by human rights violations and war crimes, perhaps the…
By Bojana Djokanovic
More than 17,000 people are believed to have disappeared as a result of the conflict in Lebanon between 1975 and 1990.
The conflict included domestic, regional and international actors, which has complicated issues of responsibility and accountability. Peace in the country remains fragile, especially in light of the spillover effect from current regional instability.
Although some legislative and administrative steps have been taken in order to assist families of the missing, a broad-based, government-supported legal and social strategy has not been implemented, which means that only a very small number of missing persons have been located and identified from the earlier conflict. Decades after a formal peace settlement was reached, the issue of the missing remains a serious obstacle to long-term peace, sustainability and progress.
However, civil society has been persistent in keeping the…