The German Government and the International Commission on Missing Persons today launched a new initiative to address the issue of missing and disappeared persons in Iraq. The project will focus on supporting ICMP’s work with the domestic authorities to secure and excavate mass graves in Sinjar and it may be extended to cover mass graves elsewhere in Iraq. Work will begin immediately.
ICMP is already helping authorities in Iraq to locate and identify thousands of people who were killed after Islamic State occupied the town of Sinjar in Northern Iraq in August 2014. The town was retaken by Kurdish forces in November 2015.
ICMP’s current work involves helping the authorities to strengthen operational and technical capacities, including providing training in mass grave exhumations, crime scene management, and mortuary procedures; providing guidance on effective operational planning, inter-agency cooperation and chain of custody; upgrading mortuary facilities; and ensuring field operations have adequate resources and equipment.
Speaking at the signing ceremony at the German Embassy in The Hague today, Ambassador Dirk Brengelmann said Germany wishes to support a strategy that empowers domestic authorities and has a direct and positive impact on citizens.
“The German Government will provide financial support to ICMP so that it can expand its training program for Iraqi personnel,” Ambassador Brengelmann said. “It will also assist ICMP in its efforts to ensure that evidence that is collected at mass graves can be used in court when those responsible for atrocities are eventually brought to justice.”
In addition, the German government will help ICMP to provide social, psychosocial and legal support for families of the missing in partnership with local civil society organizations.
“Germany is helping ICMP to apply its specialist expertise in a situation where this will benefit the people of Iraq and where it will contribute to the restoration of peace in the region,” ICMP Director-General Kathryne Bomberger said after the signing. “This is an example of the way in which ICMP can help governments advance the strategic objective of restoring stability in the Middle East and ending the suffering of millions of people, many of whom have sought refuge outside the region.”
ICMP has worked with the authorities in Iraq since 2003 to create a legislative environment and an administrative and operational system that can address the country’s massive missing persons challenge and it has worked with families of the missing to help them assert their right to the truth, to justice and to reparation.