Posts Categorized: News

Looking to the future of missing persons analysis with next-generation sequencing


Under the watchful eye of Thomas Parsons, the International Commission on Missing Persons has become the global reference in forensic human identification. As the ICMP establishes its new headquarters in The Hague, it presents the opportunity to raise its expertise to the next level.

To the average passer-by, the entrance to the new ICMP headquarters is just another polished door on a pleasant main street in a quiet, neat Dutch city. It would be difficult to guess that the three-storey facility that lies behind will soon host a cutting-edge laboratory, working to bring solace and comfort to families that have lost loved ones through armed conflicts, disasters or migration.

A unique opportunity
On the third floor, ICMP Director-General Kathryne Bomberger sits at her desk in a quiet corner, watching the new offices take shape around her. She is quietly excited by the relocation. “The Hague is…

Missing Persons from the Conflict in Croatia

 

Ahead of the publication of ICMP’s Stocktaking Report on Croatia, Matthew Holliday offers a brief overview of technical efforts undertaken by the authorities in Croatia and ICMP to account for more than 6,000 persons missing at the end of the early 1990s conflict.

In December 2016, ICMP provided the latest set of DNA identification reports to the Croatian Government Commission on Detained and Missing Persons, bringing the number of missing from the Croatian conflict that have been identified through the exchange of anonymized DNA profiles between ICMP and the Commission to more than 600. This cooperation is crucial: more than twenty years after the conflict in Croatia, the issue of the missing – including fulfilling the right of families of the missing to truth and justice – remains a complicating factor in efforts to strengthen the rule of law and promote bilateral cooperation…

More Ezidi Mass Graves Discovered

In November 2016, news agencies reported the discovery of mass graves believed to contain the remains of Ezidis in Iraq. Voice of America published an article on mass graves found in Sinjar

Da’esh forces occupied Sinjar in the summer of 2014, capturing Ezidis living in the area, and torturing and killing many of them. The first mass grave containing the remains of Ezidis was found in November 2015 after the town of Sinjar was retaken by Kurdish forces. The grave contained the remains of at least 78 women and children.

The Ezidi religious faith combines Islamic belief with…

Support from ICMP Donor Governments

Bojana Djokanovic considers the impact of renewed support in November and December 2016 for ICMP from key government partners.

The problem of missing and disappeared persons has intensified over the last two decades for a variety of reasons including climate change, migration, organized crime, and political instability in some parts of the world. The International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) is the only intergovernmental organization tasked exclusively to work on this issue.

In November and December 2016, a number of donor governments renewed their support for ICMP’s global effort to help states address the challenge of large numbers of missing persons. The Government of the Kingdom of the Netherlands made a financial contribution of one million euros to support ICMP’s global operations and to enable its transition to new headquarters in The Hague; the British Government made a commitment to provide ICMP with up…

Inter-Agency Meeting on Missing Migrants

An ICMP-IOM roundtable in The Hague highlights the need for greater international coordination in addressing the issue of missing migrants. To read the report, please click here.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has released preliminary figures for all migrant or refugee deaths worldwide in 2016 – reporting that 7,495 men, women and children died or went missing across five continents. This compares to 5,267 in 2014 and 5,740 last year, and brings the total for three years to 18,501. Migrant routes were more deadly in 2016, particularly  the Central Mediterranean route between North Africa and Europe, where nearly 4,600 migrants perished.

The issues surrounding missing migrants and refugees are unusually complex, involving a wide variety of legal, geographical and political factors. Migrants and refugees may be fleeing conflicts which are the subject of competing diplomatic interests; sea crossings bring international maritime…

Missing and Disappeared Persons: The World in 2016

A selection of news stories from key areas around the world where the issue of enforced disappearance and missing persons represented a strategic challenge in 2016.

Mediterranean Migration

Despite efforts by a number of organizations, including ICMP, the number of fatalities among migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean rose in 2016, thousands of trafficking victims went missing, and families in war-stricken parts of Africa and the Middle East were forced to endure additional trauma through the “ambiguous loss” of not knowing the fate of a missing loved one. Reuters reported on 9 January that dozens of Ethiopian and Somali migrants had died in the waters off Somaliland when control of their vessel was lost. Ninety-six bodies were washed ashore.  Newsweek carried a story on 16 February saying that tighter restrictions on the Greece-Macedonia border were leading to refugees slipping off the authorities’ radar. “People who…

Canada Supports ICMP’s Efforts to Help Iraq Find Missing Persons

24 January 2017: The Government of Canada will support the work of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) to assist Iraq in locating and identifying missing persons in liberated areas of Iraq, and to respond to demands from victims’ families for justice and accountability. Canada will provide ICMP with CAN $2,291,923 to support this effort.

Under the contribution agreement that entered into force on January 1, 2017, the Government of Canada will fund ICMP activities to increase the effectiveness of Iraqi authorities in recovering and safeguarding human remains from mass graves in areas liberated from Da’esh, and increase the participation of family members, particularly women and girls, in the process of locating and identifying missing relatives.

The contribution has been made by Global Affairs Canada’s Peace and Stabilization Operations Program, which is part of Canada’s toolkit for promoting international peace, security and stability. …

Accounting for the Disappeared in El Salvador

El Salvador

The 1992 agreement that ended 12 years of civil war in El Salvador created conditions for  this country of just over six million people to move decisively away from conflict. A generation later, the casualty rate from gang violence exceeds 1980s levels.

Whereas the war pitted a land-owning class and its military allies against agricultural workers and urban intellectuals, today’s violence is sustained by competition among narco-gangs. In August 2015, after the end of a controversial truce between government and gangs under the presidency of Mauricio Funes (2009-14), the Supreme Court classified two of the most powerful gangs, MS-13 and Barrio 18, as terrorist organizations.

During the “truce”, the official homicide rate did go down, but critics argue that this was because gangs simply murdered more discreetly, burying victims in clandestine graves. The disposal of cadavers in secret locations is now well established…

ICMP participates at panel debate on tackling UN Sustainable Development Goal 16

Nl Panel

Washington DC, 14 October 2016: ICMP participated on 14 October in a panel debate in Washington DC on tackling UN Sustainable Development Goal 16 (on Peace and Justice) in the digital age, focusing on innovations for Peace and Justice.

Speaking at a panel discussion on “Playing catch up with Silicon Valley – what needs to change in the coming five years”, ICMP’s Director of Science & Technology, Dr. Thomas Parsons, explored the challenges and the promise of integrating new technologies such as affordable real-time satellite imagery, access to social media and other forms of big data, and revolutionary DNA methods, to deliver concrete advances in missing persons registration and identification and mass grave discovery. Dr. Parsons also examined ways in which these can be applied to improve justice mechanisms, societal security, human rights and the rule of law.

The debate was hosted by the…