Accounting for the Missing Is Essential to Iraq’s Recovery

Baghdad, 16 May 2023 – The identification of missing persons is essential to the healing process for families and communities affected by conflict, the Head of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) Iraq Program, Alexander Hug, said today.

ICMP’s team in Iraq attended a commemoration service to mark Iraq’s National Day of Mass Graves. During the event, it was announced that identified remains of victims of the June 2014 Badush Massacre will be returned to the families.

The Badush site, a former prison, was used by Da’esh for detentions and executions. ICMP provided advice and assistance to the Iraqi authorities during excavations at the site. As a result of this partnership at Badush and other sites, the authorities have been able to conduct several successful excavations.

“Today we honor the memory of the victims of Da’esh’s atrocities,” Mr Hug said. “Our work at the Badush site, alongside our Iraqi partners and other organizations, is just one example of our commitment to helping Iraq to create an effective mechanism to account for all missing persons, regardless of the circumstances of their disappearance.”

In addition to its work at excavation sites, ICMP has helped the Iraqi Medico-Legal Directorate’s DNA laboratory to identify missing persons by strengthening its abilities to profile DNA samples.

In late 2021, Iraqi government institutions agreed to create a central mechanism to coordinate the missing persons process, during a strategic meeting hosted by ICMP in The Hague. This included developing a central record of all missing persons, ensuring accountability for perpetrators of crimes linked to missing persons and securing the rights of families of the missing. Additionally, the authorities highlighted the critical importance of data protection and ensuring the active participation of civil society organizations and families of the missing in a national strategy or plan.

The Iraqi Government estimates that between 250,000 and one million people are missing as a result of conflict, human rights violations and atrocities. Tens of thousands of families from all of Iraq’s different ethnic, religious and national communities continue to suffer the anguish of uncertainty regarding the fate of their relatives, with most not yet securing their right to justice, truth and reparations.


About ICMP

ICMP is a treaty-based intergovernmental organization that seeks to ensure the cooperation of governments and others in locating missing persons from conflict, human rights abuses, disasters, organized crime, migration, and other causes, and to assist them in doing so. ICMP also supports the work of other organizations in their efforts, encourages public involvement in its activities and contributes to the development of appropriate expressions of commemoration and tribute to the missing.

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