Zoran Budimilija reports on the proceedings of the Ninth Conference of the International Society of Applied Biological Sciences (ISABS) in Forensic, Anthropologic and Medical Genetics and Mayo Clinic Lectures in Translational Medicine, held from 22 to 26 June in Bol, on the island of Brač in Croatia (www.isabs.hr).
The conference was the latest in a series of biennial events organized by the International Society for Applied Biological Sciences, which is dedicated to the promotion of applied molecular biology, in the presence of more than 500 participants from all over the world. This year’s program focused on Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) in forensics, DNA investigative intelligence, and advances in forensic DNA routine, as well as anthropology genetics concerning ancient and modern human genome history, and the human genetic history of the continents.
The work of ICMP was presented at the Conference by Dr. Thomas Parsons, Director of ICMP’s Forensic Science Division…
At the end of June, ICMP arranged media briefings in Banja Luka and Sarajevo to explain the latest developments in implementing recommendations from the Stocktaking Report published by ICMP in December last year. The Report is the most comprehensive analysis yet written of a country’s effort to account for missing persons after armed conflict.
- Wartime efforts to account for the missing, including the work of the various commissions established to exchange prisoners and remains of the deceased;
- Post-war efforts to identify bodies, using traditional methods;
- The domestic legal and institutional framework, including the enactment of the BiH Law on Missing Persons in October 2004 and the establishment of the BiH Missing Persons Institute (MPI) in August 2005; and
- The scientific process, which witnessed an exponential rise in identifications after 2001 with the introduction of ICMP’s DNA-led Identification Data Management System.
The Report provides detailed information on the location and identification of the missing…
From 8 to 11 June, ICMP Director-General Kathryne Bomberger and Deputy Director of Forensic Sciences Adi Rizvic were in Monterrey, the capital of the state of Nuevo Leon in northern Mexico, to take part in a series of activities with the NGO, Citizens in Support for Human Rights (CADHAC).
CADHAC was founded in 1993 to help people who have been wrongfully imprisoned, and to offer assistance to families of the disappeared. It has developed an innovative operating method that brings together families of victims, civil society and the authorities. Over the last 20 years, CADHAC has been able to change the way the issue of the missing is viewed in Nuevo Leon – by the police, prosecutors, judicial authorities and the general public – and as a result more systematic and effective ways of investigating disappearances and prosecuting those responsible have been introduced.
Since 2014, ICMP and CADHAC have been preparing…
2 July 2015: ICMP’s Srebrenica infographic provides details about work done during the last 20 years to account for the estimated 8,000 missing, including numbers of victims who have been identified by different means, and statistics on Srebrenica-related war-crimes cases.
The Srebrenica infographic can be found here.
Libyan lawyers and other stakeholders meeting at a seminar in Istanbul on 11-12 May called on the parties preparing a national dialogue in Libya to make a formal commitment not only to work towards disclosing the fate of missing persons but to conduct investigations and also to safeguard the rights of families.
Legal experts, civil society activists and government representatives were participating in a seminar on “criminal procedure and the use of evidence in court-led processes on mass graves and missing persons in Libya”, organized by ICMP to help stakeholders develop a legal framework through which the missing persons issue can be addressed when the operating environment in the country stabilizes.
Fadeel Mohammed Atayeb Lameen, Chairman of the Libyan National Dialogue Preparatory Commission, welcomed the seminar’s recommendation highlighting the authorities’ obligations in the field of missing persons. “I think this will be useful to all those who are engaged in the…
At the end of May, a team of experts working under the jurisdiction of the Central Bosnia Canton Prosecutor’s Office began the process of case review and anthropological analysis of unidentified remains associated with Travnik mortuary. Relevant authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina at every level are conducting a thorough review of all 12 mortuaries in the country to establish why a large number of bone samples sent for testing do not match the genetic profiles of nearly 9,000 complete sets of reference samples provided by more than 27,000 family members with missing relatives.
At the end of 2012 the Missing Persons Institute determined that there were 3,279 cases of human remains in mortuaries across Bosnia and Herzegovina that had the status of NN, that is, they were unidentified. Since June 2013 the NN Working Group has reviewed nearly 1,300 NN cases in the mortuaries at Sutina,…
Danielle House examines creative and effective methods of memorialization in Mexico that address a variety of live issues related to enforced disappearance
On 26 September 2014, students from the Ayotzinapa teacher training college in Guerrero, Southern Mexico, were attacked by municipal police. Three students and three bystanders were killed, 25 were wounded, and a further 43 were forced into police trucks. The 43, however, were not taken to a police station and there was no record of their arrest; they disappeared.
The Procuraduría General de la República (PGR, Mexico’s Office of the Attorney General) has since declared the ‘historic truth’ of the event: the Mayor of the local town, Iguala, ordered the police to attack the students, to prevent them from disrupting an event his wife was hosting that evening. The police handed the students over to local cartel members, who then killed the students and disposed of their bodies.
When troops loyal to the government in Baghdad retook Tikrit in April, they discovered hundreds of bodies buried in mass graves near the River Tigris; hundreds more victims of Islamic State are believed to have been dumped in the river. This episode is just one piece in a blood-soaked mosaic: half a century of dictatorship and conflict have resulted in reports that there are up to one million missing persons in Iraq.
Speakers at conferences organized by the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) in Baghdad and Erbil at the end of April and the beginning of May stressed the need to gather precise statistics as a preliminary step in tackling this issue, but one participant from an Iraqi women’s group summed up the nature and scale of the problem when she described missing persons as “the biggest and the oldest crisis facing our nation”.
ICMP has been addressing the issue…
From 27 to 29 April, ICMP participated at the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) international conference on “Women’s Power to Stop War”, in The Hague, the Netherlands. The conference was organized to mark the centennial of the establishment of WILPF, when in 1915 more than 1,300 women came together in The Hague in an effort to stop the violence of World War One and establish the principles of permanent peace.
The three-day conference, organized by WILPF and over 40 other civil society organizations, comprised five plenary sessions and more than 47 smaller sessions, including workshops, panels, testimonials, films and regional meetings. A range of subjects were discussed, including the current alarming world trend in militarization, issues related to women and conflict, ideas of masculinities and the need to engage men and boys in gender equality, peace and social justice; fighting impunity in regard to sexual violence in…
BiH Minister for Human Rights and Refugees Semiha Borovac said today that the new authorities are committed to sustaining the effort to account for the missing and implementing the recommendations in the International Commission for Missing Persons (ICMP) BiH Stocktaking Report.
Ms Borovac was speaking at the conclusion of an ICMP presentation at the BiH Parliament. She said that while Bosnia and Herzegovina is leading the world in accounting for missing persons from conflict, with over 70 percent of the 30,000 persons now accounted for, it must create a roadmap for finding the remaining 8,000 persons.
The presentation highlighted the need for more technical experts, for better coordination between the Prosecutor’s Office and the Missing Persons Institute (MPI) and for appropriate funding for the MPI.
ICMP Director-General Kathryne Bomberger said families of the missing are frustrated by the failure of successive administrations to implement the Law on Missing Persons fully. “The Law…