The Hague, 12 May 2023: – Experts from Iraq today completed a five-day visit to the Headquarters of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) in The Hague. The experts, from the Martyrs’ Foundation Directorate for Protection and Affairs of Mass Graves and the Ministry of Health Medico-Legal Directorate, received a series of briefings on the various stages of an effective DNA-led process to account for large numbers of missing persons.
At ICMP’s Human Identification laboratory, the Iraqi visitors were able to see at first hand DNA profiling from genetic samples provided by families of the missing and post-mortem samples from unidentified human remains. They were also able to see how these samples are compared using ICMP’s integrated Data Management System (iDMS).
In addition, the visitors were briefed on strategies that can be adopted to facilitate the active engagement of families of the missing and society as a whole in was that make it possible to sustain the missing persons process over the long term.
“The use of modern forensic techniques is a key element in an effective process,” said Alexander Hug, the Head of ICMP’s Iraq Program. “ICMP is working with its partners in Iraq to ensure that the process benefits from the latest forensic techniques and from legislative and institutional support, and that it helps families of the missing to secure their rights to truth, justice, and reparations.”
The Iraqi Government estimates the between 250,000 and one million people are missing in Iraq due to conflict and human rights violations. ICMP has trained hundreds of Iraqi personnel since it began working with Iraqi institutions in 2005. In collaboration with ICMP, the Directorate for Protection and Affairs of Mass Graves and the Medical Legal Directorate have begun to use a customized version of the iDMS to collect, share and utilize information. ICMP is also working closely with families of the missing and civil society organizations in Iraq.
Following a successful meeting with senior Iraqi Officials in September 2021, ICMP supported Iraq in developing a sustainable process to locate missing persons and secure the rights of families of the missing through a five-year program.
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. ICMP is the only international organization tasked exclusively to work on the issue of missing persons.