Profiles of the Missing: Call for Coordinated Action To Address Issue of Missing Persons from the Syrian Conflict

The Hague 10 December 2018: Families of missing persons are entitled to solidarity, from governments and others, Her Majesty Queen Noor said today, adding that, as well as solidarity, “they need us to understand the nature of their struggle. We must listen and we must act.”

HM Queen Noor was speaking at a conference on “Syria: Effective Responses” organized at the Representation of the European Commission in Berlin today by the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP).

ICMP’s Syria/MENA Program, launched with EU funding in 2017, is working on a range of activities including collecting personal data from families – a key step toward establishing an effective process that can be expanded after a peace settlement. In Berlin today, ICMP brought representatives of families of the missing, from Syria and elsewhere, together with experts and senior policymakers to examine strategies that families can adopt in order to access their rights to…

Accounting for the Missing in the Western Balkans Continues with the Support of the United Kingdom

Sarajevo 4 December 2018: The International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) has convened the first meeting of the Missing Persons Group (MPG), in Herceg Novi, Montenegro. The MPG will supervise operations under the Framework Plan signed in November in The Hague by the representatives of the domestic institutions responsible for missing persons issues in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Montenegro and Serbia.

At the two-day meeting, which ended today, the MPG clearly defined the next steps to resolve as many as possible of the estimated 12,000 missing persons cases that are still outstanding. This includes action to resolve “NN” (no name, or unidentified) cases in mortuaries across the region through targeted pilot projects; procedures for sharing data on the missing and potential locations of clandestine gravesites among the members of the MPG; and joint participation at excavations of mutual interest.

Matthew Holliday, the Head of ICMP’s Western Balkans Program, commended the…

Addressing the Issue of Missing Persons in Sri Lanka

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 The Hague, 29 November 2018: Four of the seven members of Sri Lanka’s Office on Missing Persons (OMP) visited the headquarters of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) in The Hague this week to learn about ICMP’s programs on legislative and institutional development, civil society engagement, data processing, and DNA-led forensic techniques for human identification.

Commissioners Nimalka Fernando, Mirak Raheem, Kanapathipillai Venthan, and S.K Liyanage were briefed by staff from ICMP’s Civil Society Initiatives, Science & Technology, Database Management & Coordination, and Policy & Cooperation programs.

The delegation explained some of the challenges and strategic objectives of the OMP, which was established in February 2018, after President Maithripala Sirisena approved the appointment of the seven Commissioners of the OMP, a year and a half after the OMP was established by act of parliament.

OMP Commissioners are appointed for three-year terms and the OMP is mandated to address all disappearances arising from…

Albania Ratifies Agreement with ICMP

Tirana, 15 November 2018: In Tirana today, the Albanian Parliament ratified a Cooperation Agreement between the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Albania and the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP).

The Agreement enables ICMP to assist the Albanian authorities in their efforts to search for and identify persons who went missing during the communist era in Albania. The Agreement regulates ICMP’s status in Albania, and lays out the duties and responsibilities of the signatories in the missing persons process.

“ICMP applauds the ratification of the Agreement and the courage of the Albanian authorities in tackling this very sensitive issue from Albania’s communist past,” said Matthew Holliday, the Head of ICMP’s Western Balkans Program.

Mr. Holliday said a Pilot Project funded by the European Union, which will now get under way, will focus on two specific locations, Dajti and Ballsh.

ICMP will use cutting-edge DNA technology to assist the Albanian authorities in…

Accounting for the Missing Is an Investment in Peace

 The Hague, 12 November 2018: In Paris today, the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) launched an international initiative to advance the responsibility of States in accounting for all persons who go missing or have disappeared for involuntary reasons. The initiative highlights the eight principles that are enshrined in the ICMP Declaration on the Role of the State in Addressing the Issue of Persons Missing as a Consequence of Armed Conflict and Human Rights Abuse:

  • States have a responsibility to resolve the fate of missing persons
  • Fundamental human rights are invoked when a person goes missing
  • Investigations must be capable of establishing the facts
  • Effective responses require cooperation between states and with international institutions
  • Meaningful investigations ensure that individuals are not denied protections under the law
  • Establishing cause and manner of death is fundamental in upholding the right to the truth
  • All missing persons investigations are potential criminal investigations…

ICMP and Partners Launch Regional Framework Plan To Address Remaining Missing Persons Cases From the Conflicts of the 1990s in the Former Yugoslavia

The Hague, 6 November: At the Headquarters of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) in The Hague today, the representatives of the authorities that are responsible for accounting for missing persons in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Montenegro and Serbia signed a Framework Plan that lays out steps to boost their cooperation and increase their effectiveness in accounting for missing persons throughout the region.

In the last two decades, these institutions have been able to account for more than 70 percent of the 40,000 who were missing from the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia. This is a remarkable achievement, but there are still 12,000 people who have not been accounted for. The Framework Plan will enhance regional cooperation and lays out in detail how this will be done. This includes action to resolve the approximately 4,000 “NN” (no name, or unidentified) in mortuaries across the region, procedures for sharing…

ICMP Commissioner Wim Kok 1938-2018

 

The Hague, 21 October 2018 – ICMP Chair Thomas Miller today described the late Wim Kok as an individual whose leadership, advocacy and political stamina helped to place the issue of missing persons at the center of global policy. Mr Kok, who died on Saturday at the age of 80, had been a Commissioner of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) since 2002.

“Wim Kok was methodical and conscientious,” Ambassador Miller said. “He was not someone who wore his emotions on his sleeve, nor was he given to theoretical flights of fancy – he focused his prodigious energies on practical issues and it was this that enabled him to make such a significant contribution to ICMP’s ability to resolve missing persons cases around the world.”

Director-General Kathryne Bomberger said Wim Kok had…

Iraqi Ambassador Visits ICMP Headquarters

The Hague, 17 October 2018: Iraq’s newly-appointed Ambassador in The Hague, H.E. Dr. Hisham Al-Alawi, visited the Headquarters of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) today, where he met ICMP Director-General Kathryne Bomberger and senior members of staff.

Director-General Bomberger briefed Ambassador Al-Alawi on ICMP’s global operations and its program in Iraq, where it has worked for more than a decade with political leaders, forensic experts, and families of the missing to address the country’s complex missing persons issue. She also provided Ambassador Al-Alawi with a tour of ICMP’s high-throughput DNA laboratory system.

Ambassador Al-Alwi expressed appreciation for the support that ICMP has been able to give its partners in Iraq and stated that he looks forward to continued cooperation.

Director-General Bomberger said ICMP wishes to continue working in partnership with Iraq to assist the country in developing a sustainable strategy to locate missing persons and to secure the rights of…

Implementing Recommendations on Identifying Human Remains in BIH Mortuaries

Sarajevo 10 October 2018: The International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) has published an infographic that highlights the work of the NN (No Name) Working Groups that were established by the BIH authorities in 2013 to investigate why it has not been possible to match the DNA profiles from more than 3,000 human remains held in mortuaries throughout the country to 8,000 reported cases of missing persons, for which families of the missing have provided sufficient reference samples.

In November 2017, following a four-year effort spearheaded by the Prosecutor’s Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina in cooperation with the BIH Missing Persons Institute (MPI) and with technical assistance from ICMP funded by the European Union, ICMP and the MPI announced the preliminary results of the project. Careful review of all remains kept in BiH mortuaries resulted in 121 new identities, 968 re-associations…

ICMP Welcomes Visitors During Hague International Open Day

The Hague, 23 September 2018 – The International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) welcomed visitors today at its headquarters in The Hague, the Netherlands, as part of the Hague International Open Day.

Director of Policy and Cooperation Andreas Kleiser, Director of Science and Technology Thomas Parsons, and Director of Data Systems and Coordination Adnan Rizvic briefed visitors on the development of ICMP’s international role since it was founded in 1996, and in particular since 2015 when it became a treaty-based organization and since 2016 when it moved its headquarters to The Hague.

The ICMP Agreement, signed by the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Belgium and Luxembourg in December 2014, mandates ICMP to secure the co-operation of governments and other authorities in locating persons missing as a result of armed conflicts, human rights abuses, natural and man-made disasters and other involuntary reasons and to assist them in doing so. ICMP supports the…