ICMP DG on International Day of the Disappeared: End the Double Standard!

States are legally responsible for investigating missing persons cases, and they are responsible for securing the rights of all families of the missing to justice, truth and reparations.

The Hague, 28 August 2020: World leaders must end the double standard on missing persons, International Commission on Missing Persons Director-General Kathryne Bomberger said ahead of the International Day of the Disappeared, recognized worldwide on 30 August.

States are legally responsible for investigating missing persons cases, and they are responsible for securing the rights of all families of the missing to justice, truth and reparations. These rights are non-negotiable and certainly do not depend on the income level, nationality, skin color, gender, ethnicity or religion of the missing persons and their families. They are the rights of the poor as well as the rich, of minority groups as well as majority groups. And they are the rights of women as well as men.”

Ms. Bomberger said in an op-ed published today in the European Observer.

“With huge numbers of missing persons around the world – in Syria, in Iraq, in…

Iraq: Seven years since Camp Speicher Massacre

Baghdad, 12 June 2021 – Seven years ago, Da’esh fighters executed an estimated 1,700 Iraqi air force recruits at Camp Speicher near Tikrit, 140 kilometres northwest of Baghdad. Speaking today, the Head of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) program in Iraq, Alexander Hug, said it was “essential to continue the efforts of the National Team, the Mass Graves Directorate (MGD) and the Medico-Legal Directorate of the Ministry of Health (MLD), together with ICMP to account for those who are still missing as a result of the massacre and to bring those who were responsible to justice.”

Since 2016 ICMP has provided operational support to Iraqi experts in addressing ISIS crimes, by safeguarding and excavating gravesites in Sinjar and mass graves in Tikrit, including the graves at Camp Speicher. This has included providing training, guidance, and onsite operational support for the multi-agency work at Camp Speicher. ICMP supported three phases of fieldwork by the National Team in 2016 and 2017, during which…

ICMP DG on Mladic verdict: Truth and justice prevail for families of the missing

A piece of art created by Šejla Kamerić is displayed on the Srebrenica Memorial as part of events to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the genocide. Photo: ICMP

The Hague, 8 June 2021 – The verdict handed down today by the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (UNMICT) in the case of Ratko Mladić, following legal proceedings that have lasted for more than nine years, is an important affirmation of the rule of law, ICMP Director-General Kathryne Bomberger said.

The UNMICT upheld the conviction of Mladić for the genocide in the area of Srebrenica in 1995, war crimes and crimes against humanity.  Mladić, who was the Bosnian Serb commander during the conflict, has been sentenced to life imprisonment.

“Those who killed unarmed civilians and those who facilitated the conditions for these crimes, wrongly believed that they could erase their crimes through hiding the mortal remains of their victims, said Bomberger.

ICMP’s work, in particular scientific evidence establishing the identity of victims from the 1990s conflicts, contributed to an incontestable narrative of genocide and other war crimes. The evidence has contributed…

Act in their Absence: New ICMP campaign encourages Syrians to report missing and disappeared persons

The Hague, 31 May 2021 – A new International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) campaign titled Act in their Absence  encourages Syrians to report missing persons to the ICMP’s Online Inquiry Center (OIC) as part of efforts to help find Syria’s missing. Families located anywhere in the world can use the OIC, and Europe-based Syrian families with missing relatives will this summer be invited to provide genetic reference samples to assist in locating missing persons and reuniting families.

The project activities are conducted by ICMP, with the support of the German Federal Foreign Office and the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs.

Since the beginning of the Syrian conflict, more than 100,000 persons have gone missing, according to a 2021 UN report. Syrians and others have gone missing due to atrocities committed as part of the ongoing fighting, human rights violations, including summary executions, enforced disappearances, kidnapping, arbitrary detention…

Survivors of Albania’s communist camps share stories in ICMP-supported documentary film

By Saša Kulukčija

Tirana, 17 May 2021 – Gjet Kadel was just seven years old when he and his family were imprisoned in Albania’s Tepelena camp. Decades later, he is still looking for the remains of family members who perished in the camp. His story is highlighted in The Weight of Mud, a documentary created by journalist Lulieta Progni of the Institute for Political Studies with support from the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP).

The documentary, created as part of a project financed by the European Union (EU) in Albania and the Government of Switzerland and implemented by ICMP and Authority for Information on Former State Security Documents (AIFSSD), was featured on ABC Albania and is now available on YouTube.

The film combines survivors’ stories with research and State Archive documents. About 600 people, 300 of them children, were killed or died due to inhuman conditions while imprisoned in Tepelena…

On Iraq’s Mass Grave Day, ICMP calls for the protection and investigation of mass graves

Baghdad, 16 May 2021 – To commemorate Mass Graves Day in Iraq, the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) in collaboration with Bournemouth University presented a recently published protocol on mass grave investigation and protection to Iraqi authorities involved in efforts to account for missing persons.

In 2007, the Iraqi Council of Ministers designated 16 May as the National Day of Mass Graves to draw attention to the fate of individuals who were killed and disappeared during decades of conflict and human rights abuse and buried in mass graves. Iraqi authorities estimate that between 250.000 and 1 million persons have gone missing in the country.

To commemorate Mass Graves Day, ICMP presented to Iraqi stakeholders Arabic- and Kurdish-language copies of The Bournemouth Protocol on Mass Grave Protection and Investigation, a joint product of ICMP and Bournemouth University that defines legal and practical standards of the protection and investigation of mass…

Germany accedes to ICMP Treaty

The Hague, 3 May 2021 – In a move that will deepen collaboration to benefit missing persons and their families around the world, Germany recently acceded to the Agreement on the Status and Functions of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP), becoming the 2014 Treaty’s ninth State Party.

Germany joins Afghanistan, Chile, Cyprus, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Serbia, Sweden and the United Kingdom as States Parties to the Treaty, which has also been signed by Belgium and El Salvador.  The Treaty established ICMP as an intergovernmental organization  headquartered in The Hague tasked with ensuring the cooperation of governments and others in locating missing persons cases from conflict, human rights abuses, disasters, organized crime, migration and other involuntary causes.

Germany’s Ambassador to the Netherlands, Dirk Brengelmann, on 30 April formally deposited Germany’s instrument of accession to the depositary, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands. The German government on 17…

ICMP statement 33 years after Kurds suffered in Anfal campaign: victims and their families deserve justice

Baghdad, 14 April 2021 – To commemorate the 33rd anniversary of the Anfal campaign that killed and disappeared large numbers of Kurds, the International Commission on Missing Persons reiterated that the rights of victims and their families to truth, justice and reparations must be secured.

The Baath regime’s Anfal campaign involved military operations, attacks with chemical weapons, mass disappearances and other atrocities.

“ICMP pays its respects to all families of victims of the Anfal campaign, many of whom are still waiting for answers – as are families of victims of other atrocities committed by the Baath regime,” said Alexander Hug, head of ICMP in Iraq. “We are committed to supporting Iraqi authorities and families of victims in efforts to put in place a sustainable process to locate, recover and identify missing persons, and to secure their families’ rights, based on an impartial rule-of-law based approach.”

ICMP assists the Martyrs Foundation and Ministry…

Syrian Civil Society representatives, families of the missing discuss way forward on detainees during ICMP-facilitated discussion

The Hague, 12 April 2021 – Syrian civil society representatives and other key actors called for the immediate release of all who are missing following arbitrary detentions in Syria during a recent roundtable discussion hosted by the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP).

The 8 April 2021 discussion addressed the harrowing circumstances of detention in Syria and the continued political challenges surrounding efforts to account for detainees held primarily by the Syrian government, but also by other parties to the conflict. Participants underlined the need to address the immediate need to know the location of detainees and other missing persons and noted the importance of accountability and justice for both the victims and their families.

“The families of the detained and missing are at a breaking point,” said ICMP Director-General Kathryne Bomberger. “The measures in place to address detention are not working. We need to explore avenues for new ways to address…

New ICMP report recommends actions to help Libya account for missing persons

9 April 2021 – In an assessment report launched this week during a meeting of the Berlin Process’ International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights Working Group, the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) examines Libya’s efforts to account for missing persons and recommends action to establish a sustainable and effective missing persons process.

Between 10,000 and 20,000 persons are estimated to be missing in Libya. Prior to 2011, forced disappearances were linked to the regime’s violations of human rights, or were a consequence of wars in which the Libyan regime was involved. Later, widespread violations of human rights law and international humanitarian law, including forced disappearances, resulted in persons going missing. Additionally, an unknown number of persons have gone missing while crossing or departing Libya as part of migratory journeys.

The assessment, conducted by ICMP from October 2020 to January 2021 with the support of the Government of the Netherlands…

Evidence related to missing persons a focus in second ICMP course for first responders in Northeast Syria

The Hague, 25 March 2021 – The importance of collecting and preserving evidence related to missing persons was a key topic in a second training course for first responders who locate persons missing from the ongoing conflict in Syria, held this week by the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP).

The 22 first responders based in northeast Syria enhanced their capacity to collect forensic evidence and safeguard mass graves and sites of forensic interest during the online four-day course, which ended today. The course covered procedures for DNA sampling of remains, collecting and preserving evidence from mass graves and other measures to support future accountability mechanisms. The course also covered methods to collect, manage and secure data related to the site contents.

Estimates cited by the United Nations in 2021 indicate that over 100,000 persons are missing as a result of the current conflict in Syria. In addition, the country has…