The Hague, 28 February 2023: – The International Commission on Missing Persons and the Government of Canada signed an agreement under which ICMP will support Ukraine in locating missing and disappeared persons following the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Global Affairs Canada will provide 1.8 million Canadian dollars (roughly 1,345,000 USD) for a one-year project.
The ongoing war in Ukraine has resulted in tens of thousands of missing and disappeared persons. Circumstances in which people go missing in Ukraine include forcible deportations, summary executions, incommunicado detention, kidnapping, abduction and family separation, including unlawful adoptions and trafficking in human beings. ICMP is working with the authorities to develop an effective long-term process to account for the missing and, where missing persons cases are a result of war crimes, to bring perpetrators to justice.
Lisa Helfand, Canada’s Ambassador to the Kingdom of the Netherlands, said Canadian support for ICMP in Ukraine, which will help the authorities find upwards of 15,000 missing persons, is consistent with the country’s foreign policy objectives. “We believe that helping the authorities to address this issue can make a significant contribution to resolving the challenge to Ukrainian sovereignty and the wider challenge to global stability.”
ICMP Director-General Kathryne Bomberger expressed gratitude to the government of Canada. She said ICMP’s program will help ICMP to increase the capacity of families and civil society organizations to gather and share information about missing persons cases.
“The direct beneficiaries will be families of the missing,” Ms Bomberger said. “Ukrainian institutions such as the Ministry of Justice, the Office of the Prosecutor General, National Police, the State Scientific Forensic Centre and the State Security Service will also benefit in terms of receiving relevant information on missing persons cases that will strengthen the investigation into war crimes and facilitate the location and identification of missing persons.”
At the invitation of the Government of Ukraine, ICMP is helping the authorities to develop a sustainable missing persons process based on the rule of law. This includes providing access to high-volume, DNA-led identification capabilities, ensuring that evidence collected during the process, including evidence from mass and clandestine graves, is admissible in criminal trials, supporting laboratory operations, data collection, and mass grave investigations, providing Ukrainian institutions (including the police) and the Ukrainian public with access to secure and large-scale missing persons data processing, and ensuring participation of civil society and families in the missing persons process
ICMP is a treaty-based intergovernmental organization with Headquarters in The Hague, the Netherlands. Its mandate is to secure the cooperation of governments and others in locating and identifying missing persons from conflict, human rights abuses, disasters, organized crime, irregular migration and other causes and to assist them in doing so. It is the only international organization tasked exclusively to work on the issue of missing persons.