Posts Categorized: Press Releases

Policy Coordination Group: Accounting for Missing Persons Is Fundamental to Establishing Peace in Syria

The Hague, 23 June 2022: Implementing a systematic process to account for missing and disappeared persons in Syria must be a central element in peace negotiations and can contribute to peace implementation in a fundamental way, participants at a meeting of the Policy Coordination Group (PCG) said this week.

Meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday in The Hague, the PCG, a Syrian-led initiative on the missing and disappeared facilitated by the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP), discussed a policy paper on mass graves.

ICMP Director-General Kathryne Bomberger said the missing persons process must be understood in the context of rebuilding Syrian society after decades of dictatorship and more than a decade of conflict. She said the PCG policy paper on mass graves, as well as other documents produced by the group, could drive fundamental change after a peace settlement, in terms of accountability, transparency and respect for the rule of law.

“Mass graves continue…

An Effective Strategy is Urgently Needed To Account for Missing and Disappeared Persons from the Syria Conflict

The Hague, 22 June 2022: – More than 130,000 people are missing as a result of the present conflict in Syria. This includes people who are missing as a consequence of summary executions, arbitrary and incommunicado detention, kidnapping and abduction, enslavement, chemical attacks, and other human rights abuses. The fighting and day-to-day ravages of war have also resulted in combatants and civilians of many nationalities going missing. In addition, migrants and refugees fleeing the region are missing, including children who have been separated from their families, people who have drowned on the Mediterranean crossing, and victims of human trafficking. Syrians and others are also missing as a result of human rights abuses perpetrated in Syria before the current conflict began.

An effective strategy is urgently needed to locate and identify such a large number of people who have gone missing over a protracted period of time and to secure the…

ICMP Moves Forward with Program to Help Ukraine Account for Thousands of Missing

The Hague, 30 May 2022: Ukraine’s Prosecutor General, Iryna Venediktova, visited the Headquarters of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) in The Hague today. After touring ICMP’s DNA laboratory, Ms Venediktova and ICMP Director-General Kathryne Bomberger discussed ICMP’s program to help the authorities in Ukraine establish an effective, long-term strategy to account for thousands of people who have gone missing as a result of the conflict.

In April 2022, the authorities requested urgent ICMP assistance, based on an exchange of diplomatic notes and a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed in Kyiv in 2021. The MoU includes ICMP support for capacity building for Ukraine, including through assistance with DNA-based human identification, establishing a Central Register of Missing Persons, and building consensus between civil society and the authorities.

“Efficient data collection will play an indispensable role in the process,” Director-General Bomberger said after her meeting with the Prosecutor General. “Tens of thousands of…

Germany Continues Support for ICMP To Help Account for Missing Persons from Syria and Iraq  

The Hague, 30 May 2022 – The German Federal Foreign Office (FFO) has made a new financial donation to support efforts by the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) to help account for missing persons from Iraq and Syria. The donation will support activities over a period of eight months.

“Germany has been a key partner in ICMP’s work to ensure that States uphold their responsibility to locate all missing persons and investigate the circumstances of their disappearance regardless of their ethnic, religious or national background,” ICMP Director-General Kathryne Bomberger said today. “The latest donation will make it possible to help Iraq maintain the momentum to find missing persons and to continue ICMP’s efforts to help Syrian families report their missing loved ones.”

ICMP has been assisting Iraq since 2005 providing training and expertise and helping Iraq to create a sustainable process to find the more than 250,000 persons missing since…

ICMP supports Iraqi authorities in their quest to find all missing persons

Baghdad, 16 May 2022 –  The International Commission on Missing Person (ICMP) supports Iraqi authorities, including the National Team, represented by the Directorate for Protection and Affairs of Mass Graves / Martyrs Foundation and the Medico-Legal Directorate / Ministry of Health, both technically and logistically, in their quest to find all missing persons, regardless of the cause of their disappearance.

ICMP has assisted Iraq since 2003. An ICMP office was opened in Baghdad in 2008, and in Erbil in 2010. ICMP worked with concerned authorities working on missing persons, and supported governmental efforts to establish Iraqi expertise to work in the field and in DNA laboratories, which was one of ICMP’s goals since the beginning in Iraq.

ICMP has also worked with Civil Society Organizations to develop and enhance their abilities to have an effective participation in locating missing persons; ICMP today supports excavations such as the one currently on-going in…

ICMP and Iraq National Team Distribute Mass Graves Protection Guidelines

Baghdad, 16 May 2022: – To mark Iraq’s National Day of Mass Graves, the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) produced guidelines on legal standards and protocols for the protection of mass graves. The guidelines flyers distributed, in Arabic, Kurdish and English, were jointly prepared by ICMP and the Iraq National Team.

“The guidelines presented today offer practical information that will help families of the missing and other stakeholders to play an effective role in the missing persons process,” ICMP Director-General, Kathryne Bomberger, said.

Ms Bomberger noted that ICMP has participated, along with the key Iraqi institutions, in developing a long-term strategy to account for the missing, and a number of initiatives, including work on mass graves protection, can be launched as soon as a new government is formed.

In 2007, Iraq’s Council of Ministers designated 16 May as the National Day of Mass Graves. Iraqi authorities estimate that between 250,000…

Chairman of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina Visits ICMP Headquarters

The Hague, 25 April 2022 – Today, as a part of his official visit to the Netherlands, the Chairman of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Šefik Džaferović, visited the Headquarters and DNA laboratory of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) and met with ICMP Director-General Kathryne Bomberger.

Ms. Bomberger and Mr. Džaferović discussed ongoing efforts to account for the 7,000 persons who are still missing from the conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina during the 1990s.

“In the last 25 years, with ICMP assistance and through the pioneering use of DNA, the authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina have been able to account for 75 percent of the 30,000 persons who were reported missing from the conflict,” Ms Bomberger said. “This is a ratio that has not been equaled in any other post-conflict country.”

She said the process has enabled families of the missing “to secure their rights to truth and justice”…

ICMP Convenes Meeting of International Organizations to Support Libya’s Missing Persons Work

The Hague, 8 April 2022 – The International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) convened this week an online coordination meeting between international organizations whose work is relevant to supporting Libya’s efforts to locate missing and disappeared persons from armed conflict, human rights abuses, migration and other circumstances.

The focus of the “Interagency Roundtable” is to support Libya’s efforts to create a sustainable missing persons strategy. The meeting follows the creation of a Libyan Expert Group on Missing and Disappeared Persons, which was launched in The Hague on 20 March 2022 with ICMP’s facilitation.

Speaking on Thursday at the roundtable meeting, ICMP Director-General Kathryne Bomberger said an effective missing persons process in Libya will benefit from the creation of a central record, enhanced cooperation between the relevant institutions, a program of capacity building, and a dedicated DNA workflow to find all missing persons, regardless of ethnic, national or religious background, whether they…

ICMP statement on recent visit to Yerevan and Baku to address the issue of missing persons

The Hague, 7 April 2022: The International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) welcomes the outcomes of discussions on the situation in the South Caucasus yesterday, in Brussels, at a meeting of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, and the Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia, Nikol Pashinyan, and hosted by the President of the European Council, Charles Michel.

The ICMP Director General, Ms. Kathryne Bomberger, visited Armenia last week and Azerbaijan this week for high-level meetings at the invitation of the respective governments to discuss effective cooperation to locate persons missing as a result of armed conflicts in the region. ICMP was assured of the political will of both countries to step-up the efforts of their respective institutions to account for missing persons, thereby giving answers to their families and advancing confidence and peaceful coexistence.

ICMP will in the short-term present both governments with a plan proposing…

Madeleine Albright: An Inspiration To Women Who Organize and Campaign for Justice

Photo: United States Department of State

The Hague, 25 March 2022: – The Chair of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP), Ambassador Thomas Miller, paid tribute today to the former US Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, who died this week at the age of 84.

“Secretary Albright’s remarkable life, beginning with exile from Czechoslovakia to escape Nazi and then Communist persecution, sustained a commitment to principled leadership,” Ambassador Miller said, noting that “several of my fellow Commissioners either worked with or for Secretary Albright and can personally attest to her tenacity, integrity, warmth, and friendship.”

Ambassador Miller said that this principled leadership was at the heart of US support for ICMP when in the late 1990s it began to develop an effective model to help governments account for missing persons from disasters, conflicts and other causes.

ICMP was established just months before Madeleine Albright’s appointment as Secretary of State, and during her tenure, which saw the countries of…