The Hague, The Netherlands – With the financial support of the European Union’s Service for Foreign Policy Instruments, experts from the Ukrainian State Scientific Research Forensic Center (SSRFC) and the Ukrainian Ministry of Internal Affairs National Police (NP) completed a one-week training program on November 11, in the application of a DNA-led identification process, at the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) Headquarters in The Hague.
ICMP is helping Ukraine to develop a large-scale, DNA-led identification process that delivers scientific surety, and through proper chain of custody, links the identity of missing persons to crime scenes, ensuring a high standard of investigations in the thousands of missing persons cases that Ukraine is confronting.
ICMP’s state-of-the-art Human Identification (HID) laboratory is located at its Headquarters in The Hague and has a highly developed capacity to obtain DNA profiles from very difficult cases of unidentified human remains. ICMP has conducted the world’s largest missing persons DNA testing program, having successfully tested more than 80,000 post-mortem samples and established a database of more than 150,000 family reference DNA profiles to support the identification of more than 20,000 missing persons.
Support for Ukraine includes conducting testing and matching of thousands of family reference and post-mortem samples in. Assuming the population of missing in Ukraine is 30,000 and growing, this will require collecting and processing at least 90,000 family reference samples during the next several years and collecting and processing upwards of 30,000 post-mortem samples from every missing person, including cases that were already closed through non-scientific means.
Established as an agency of the Ukrainian Ministry of Internal Affairs in 1998, the SSRFC is primarily a crime laboratory. It uses modern equipment and methods and employs highly qualified specialists who are engaged in the process of identifying human remains of victims of the war in Ukraine. However, conducting investigations into thousands of missing persons cases, including DNA extraction from tens of thousands of human remains is very challenging. The visit of the Ukrainian delegation was therefore designed as a way of exchanging experience and best practice to increase capacity, and also to increase cooperation between ICMP and the SSRFC, which is critical in view of the enormous and growing workload as clandestine gravesites continue to be discovered.
ICMP’s Ukraine Program is currently supported by the European Union’s Service for Foreign Policy Instruments (EU FPI).
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 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.
At the invitation of the Government of Ukraine, ICMP will seek to help locate and investigate missing persons cases to judicial standards that will make it possible to hold perpetrators of atrocities to account and provide the public with factual and credible information regarding disappeared persons and related crimes, thus countering false narratives that seek to undermine public trust, social cohesion and peace and stability. The EU FPI has contributed EUR 2.8 million to ICMP’s Ukraine program, the project started on 1 April 2022 and is set for 18 months.
For additional information, please contact Viktoriia Zabiian via Viktoriia.Zabiian@icmp.int