Baghdad, 16 May 2022: – To mark Iraq’s National Day of Mass Graves, the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) produced guidelines on legal standards and protocols for the protection of mass graves. The guidelines flyers distributed, in Arabic, Kurdish and English, were jointly prepared by ICMP and the Iraq National Team.
“The guidelines presented today offer practical information that will help families of the missing and other stakeholders to play an effective role in the missing persons process,” ICMP Director-General, Kathryne Bomberger, said.
Ms Bomberger noted that ICMP has participated, along with the key Iraqi institutions, in developing a long-term strategy to account for the missing, and a number of initiatives, including work on mass graves protection, can be launched as soon as a new government is formed.
In 2007, Iraq’s Council of Ministers designated 16 May as the National Day of Mass Graves. Iraqi authorities estimate that between 250,000 and one million people are missing in the country as a result of conflict and instability over a period of more than four decades.
The Law on the Protection of Mass Graves, enacted in 2006 and amended in 2015, sets out the mechanisms and protocols for investigating and excavating mass graves, and allocates responsibilities to the relevant Iraqi institutions. ICMP helped Iraqi lawmakers to draft the Law and for more than a decade has been working with partners in Iraq to help the country fulfill its legal obligation to account for those who have disappeared.
ICMP has trained hundreds of Iraqi forensic and administrative personnel in the key elements of an effective missing persons process; ICMP has made great strides with the Mass Graves Department of the Martyrs’ Foundation and the Medical Legal Directorate of the Ministry of Health to start using a customized version of ICMP’s Integrated Data Management System (iDMS) to collect, share and utilize information that can locate and identify missing persons. ICMP also works closely with families of the missing and civil society organizations to help families secure their rights to truth, justice and reparations.
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.