Posts Categorized: Press Releases

Covid-19: ICMP adjust operations, continues work to help States account for the missing

The Hague – 23 March 2020: The International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) has adapted is operations due to the Covid-19 pandemic, with most staff telecommuting as they work to ensure that the rights of missing persons and families are respected.  

Staff in the ICMP Headquarters in The Hague, Netherlands, and in programs around the world are mostly working from home, to reduce dissemination of the virus in line with instructions from local health authorities. Meetings and events that were planned for the immediate future have been postponed or shifted to a virtual format.  

“Accounting for the missing is an investment in peace and stability and an indispensable global commitment, even in these times,” said ICMP Director-General Kathryne Bomberger. “We continue our work to ensure that states fulfil their responsibility to…

Mexican Scientists work on challenging missing persons cases in collaboration with ICMP 

The Hague, 20 March 2020: Three Mexican Forensic experts from the state of Nuevo Leon, working together with scientists from the International Commission on Missing Persons at the ICMP laboratory in The Hague, Netherlands, have successfully obtained DNA results from challenging post-mortem samples of missing persons.  The results were obtained as part of a scientific exchange during which the Mexican experts also strengthened their skills in DNA extraction and genetic testing methods.

The experts from the Institute of Criminalistics and Expert Services, of the Office of the Prosecutor General of the State of Nuevo Leon, explored novel methods to extract and analyze DNA from highly deteriorated skeletal remains during their 9-17 March visit to the ICMP headquarters, which includes a state-of-the-art, high-throughput DNA laboratory. The exchange, organized through the ICMP’s Wim Kok Center for Excellence and Learning, is part of a USAID-funded project the ICMP is implementing with the civil society…

ICMP supports Iraqi authorities in uncovering mass grave near Badoush Prison linked to 2014 Da’esh crimes

March 19, 2020 – The International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) is supporting Iraq’s National Team in fieldwork to locate and recover human remains and to document criminal evidence from a mass grave near the Badoush prison.

Forensic work at the site, where Da’esh allegedly massacred hundreds of prisoners in 2014, began 7 March. Experts from Iraq’s Mass Graves Directorate and Medico-Legal Directorate, supported by ICMP, mapped the area and recovered human remains of the site. The team suspended its work on 16 March following the Iraqi government’s decision to restrict movement to prevent the spread of the Corona virus. The site – a shallow ravine- is being safeguarded, and forensic work, including excavations, will resume when the situation allows.

“It is a complex site because the human remains are dispersed over a large area, but the work was going well until it had to be halted due to Covid-19,” said…

Iraqi Scientists Strengthen Skills in Using DNA to Identify Missing Persons at ICMP Training

The Hague, 28 February 2020: Four Iraqi scientists from Iraq’s Medico-Legal Directorate (MLD) strengthened their skills in DNA identification methods during training sessions held this month at the headquarters of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP).

The training, held 17 to 28 February, was part of ICMP support to Iraqi authorities in developing capacity to handle missing persons cases.

Mr. Ahmed Qasim, Head of MLD’s Extraction Unit, and Mr. Omer Al-Barghooth, Extraction Unit Analyst focused on ICMP’s extraction protocol during a session held the first week, while Ms. Noor Salih, Head of MLD’s Quantification and Amplification Unit, and Ms. Haneen Rakhoo, Head of Capillary Electrophoresis Unit, focused on ICMP’s pre- and post-amplification procedures during a session held the second week.

Iraqi Ambassador Hisham Al-Alawi and staff from the Iraqi Embassy in the Netherlands took part in ceremonies that closed the training sessions.

The training, which included practical sessions at the ICMP’s DNA…

ICMP Photo exhibition in Baghdad underlines importance of cooperation to account for the missing in Iraq

Baghdad, 25 February 2020: A photo exhibition organized by the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) and Iraqi institutions tasked with finding missing persons, including the Martyrs’ Foundation and the Ministry of Health was inaugurated this week.  The exhibition, which is supported through ICMP’s EU –funded Iraq program, highlights the magnitude of the missing persons issue in Iraq and showcases the Iraqi National Team’s intensive work to address it.

The exhibition, titled “Missing Persons Can Be Accounted For:  A Strong Partnership between ICMP and the Iraqi National Team”, also illustrates how ICMP is helping its partners in Iraq to build a sustainable and effective missing persons process.

“The photos in this joint exhibition tell a story of hope. They show that with cooperation from all involved, it is possible to find the missing and to help the families of the missing,” said Rasa Ostrauskaite, the Head of ICMP’s Iraq Program.

The Head…

Western Balkans representatives agree on steps forward in search for those who remain missing from 1990s conflicts

"The meeting in Priština, was part of a two-year project funded by the United Kingdom to support the work of ICMP and strengthen regional cooperation"

Priština 31 January 2020: At a meeting of the Missing Persons Group (MPG) this week, representatives for institutions responsible for missing persons issues in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Montenegro and Serbia made key decisions on joint activities in 2020 that will contribute to accounting for persons who are still missing as a result of the 1990s conflicts in former Yugoslavia.

The decisions MPG made at the 30 January meeting in Priština, convened by the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP), include:

  • A series of bilateral meetings will be held to prioritise joint reconnaissance and excavation of potential locations of mass graves in 2020.
  • MPG members will liaise with ICMP regarding forensic examination and biological sampling of NN (unidentified) cases of human remains in order to facilitate DNA analysis for the purpose of identification of missing persons.
  • MPG will jointly mark the 2020 International Day of the Disappeared and issue…

Implementation of the BiH Law on Missing Persons must be expedited, say members of BiH Missing Persons Institute Advisory Board

Ana Bilic, QA/QC Manager and Deputy Head of the ICMP DNA laboratory, explain techniques used to find missing persons to BiH Missing Persons Institute (MPI) Advisory Board members Fikret Bacic, Amir Kulagic and Jela Mandic during a visit to the ICMP HQ in The Hague, Netherlands, this week.

The Hague 17 January 2020: Authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina must fully implement the provisions of the country’s missing persons law, representatives of the BiH Missing Persons Institute (MPI) Advisory Board emphasized during a visit this week to the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) headquarters in The Hague, Netherlands.

Full implementation of the Law on Missing Persons, which was created in 2004 would require the establishment of a verified BiH Central Record of Missing Persons and the creation of the BiH Fund for Families of the Missing. The Fund would provide financial support to families of the missing, regardless of the national or religious origin of the relative of the missing person, or the circumstances of the disappearance of the missing person.

“We want to work together for all victims. We want government institutions to work together and take responsibility,” said MPI Advisory Board Member Amir Kulaglic. “We have had…

ICMP Welcomes Brazil Special Commission on Missing Persons to HQ in The Hague

The Hague, 20 December 2019: Mr. Marco Vinicius Pereira de Carvalho, President of the Brazil Special Commission on Political Dead and Missing Persons met with Director-General, Kathryne Bomberger of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) and the Director of ICMP’s Science and Technology Program, Dr. Thomas Parsons, to review steps made in identifying missing persons from the Perus Working Group.

Over the last two years, ICMP has assisted Brazil through cooperation with the Perus Working Group, which works to identify bodies that were interred in a clandestine mass grave in the Dom Bosco Cemetery in Perus, Sao Paulo, between 1971 and 1975, during the military government rule.  Over 700 cases have been examined and tested from this complex assemblage of human remains.  ICMP helped Brazil identify two high profile cases. The identifications are symbolically significant to families of the missing as they demonstrate the present government’s commitment to use…

ICMP Training Strengthens Iraq’s Ability to Process DNA Samples Related to Missing Persons

The Hague, 19 December 2019: As part of its support to Iraqi authorities in developing capacity to handle missing persons cases, the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) this week trained the leaders of the DNA lab at Iraq’s Medico-Legal Directorate (MLD).

The head of the lab, Mr. Mohammed Mashni Farhan, and deputy lab head Dr. Salim Shabaan Mahmood, were trained on using an automated puncher that will enable their lab to more than double the number of samples it processes a day. The ICMP, recently donated such a puncher to MLD, one of the Iraq’s main national agencies that are responsible for addressing the missing persons issue.

His Excellency, Hisham al Alawi, Ambassador of Iraq, staff from the Iraqi Embassy in the Netherlands, ICMP Director-General Kathryne Bomberger and the ICMP Director of Science and Technology, Thomas Parsons, took part in the opening session of the training, which was supported by the European Union….

Colombian Families of the Missing Discuss Perspectives and Priorities During Visit to ICMP in The Hague

Bogotá, 17 December 2019. From 10 to 13 December in The Hague, the Netherlands, the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) brought families of the missing from Colombia together with representatives of families from other countries, as well as experts working in the field of missing persons, for a series of events at which participants exchanged experiences and perspectives.

Fourteen family members from Colombia described the effort being made to address the enormous legacy of missing persons in the country, the work that organizations and families are doing and the challenges and needs faced by  civil society organizations that work  to account for the disappeared.

ICMP organized strategic and technical workshops on topics such as reporting missing persons, data processing, location and exhumation of clandestine graves, and DNA identification. The Hague-based non-profit organization Justice and Peace Netherlands held a course on security for human rights defenders for the visitors.

“These workshops were…