International Day of the Disappeared: ICMP and Iraqi Partners Launch Strategic Policy Event

The Hague, 30 August 2021 – The International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP), together with Iraqi partners, today launched a strategic policy meeting on “Missing Persons in Iraq: The Way Forward”. The objective of the three-day meeting, initiated on the occasion of the International Day of the Disappeared, is to enhance Iraqi efforts to account for all missing persons, regardless of sectarian, or national background or the time period, location, or circumstances of their disappearance.

“This meeting in The Hague brings together government representatives from across Iraq, including representatives from ministries and institutions that have particular responsibility for this issue. The object is to develop a joint strategy to account for missing persons and to secure the rights of all families of the missing,” ICMP Director-General Kathryne Bomberger said at the opening of today’s meeting.

The event will focus on a multi-pronged strategy that includes the creation of a centralized Iraqi…

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…

Intergovernmental Roundtable: Countries in the Middle East & Europe Must Cooperate to Address the Issue of Missing Syrians

The Hague, 22 June 2022– The Third Intergovernmental Roundtable on Syria convened by the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) was held today under the title “Accounting for the Missing Is an Investment in Peace”. The roundtable, convened virtually, examined effective means of cooperation among European and Middle Eastern countries that are hosting large numbers of Syrian refugees to address the issue of people who have gone missing in Syria or on migratory routes or in destination countries.

“At previous roundtables we recognized that this is a shared challenge that requires a shared solution,” ICMP Commissioner Dirk Brengelmann said in his opening remarks. “It cannot be adequately addressed by individual countries or by groups of countries in the Middle East or in Europe – it can only be addressed effectively if the countries of origin, transit and destination cooperate.”

ICMP Director-General Kathryne Bomberger stressed that states have an obligation to investigate…

Syrian Civil Society Networking Conference: Opportunities for Collective Action to Influence Policy

The Hague, 21 June 2022: – Syrian civil society representatives identified challenges and opportunities to unify the efforts of Syrian networks working on the issue of missing persons in the Syrian context, at a virtual event hosted by the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) this week.

Speakers highlighted the importance of forging and strengthening partnerships among civil society actors working on this issue; they emphasized the need to strengthen collective action and identified opportunities for civil society to influence policymaking. Recommendations to promote inclusiveness and diversity within collectives were also proposed.

ICMP presented a Mapping Tool and a Resource Library platform, which support information exchange and capacity sharing among civil society actors.

“The best that society can offer to the families of victims, the missing, the detainees and survivors is to unite and combine efforts so that they all work towards uncovering the fate of the missing and securing access to justice…

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…

ICMP Statement on Tadamon Massacre

photo credit: footage from the Guardian Video

The Hague, 12 May 2022: Recently circulated videos taken in Syria show blindfolded, unarmed civilians being shot by forces of the Assad regime. The victims are shown falling into a mass grave in the neighborhood of Tadamon. These killings are believed to have been perpetrated during a larger massacre in 2013. They are evidence of extrajudicial killings that reflect the horrors endured by the Syrian people over the past eleven years.

The International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) supports the significant work of Syrian civil society organizations and their efforts to document missing persons cases and advocate for victims and their families. ICMP is working to set in place a process that will account for all…

Syria, Brussels VI: ICMP-facilitated Policy Coordination Group Presents Recommendations on Missing, Disappeared and Detained

The Hague, 4 May 2022: – The Syrian Policy Coordination Group (PCG) presented recommendations on the issue of missing, disappeared and detained persons, at an online Brussels VI event facilitated by the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) with the participation of the Delegation of the European Union to Syria.

During the event, the PCG presented steps designed to develop a strategic policy framework to support the process of establishing effective domestic, regional and international mechanisms to account for Syria’s missing and disappeared persons and to uphold the rights of their families.

Today’s event follows the eight session of the PCG and a roundtable in late March with the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), at which participants discussed the proposed new international mechanism for Syria’s Missing and Disappeared.

“Over 130,000 persons are missing from the conflict and people continue to be disappeared on a regular basis…