On 30 August ICMP announced the launch of its restructured Online Inquiry Center (OIC). The OIC can be accessed by families of the missing and others to provide or obtain information about a missing person. It is part of an advanced software solution used to manage large-scale missing persons programs throughout the world.
“The OIC is a unique and invaluable tool that gives stakeholders – including families of the missing and those who are responsible for locating and identifying missing persons – access to ICMP’s database, which currently contains information on around 40,000 missing persons,” said ICMP Director-General Kathryne Bomberger.
Currently, the OIC can be accessed in English, Arabic, Spanish, Albanian, and Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian. More languages will be added in due course.
The OIC user can provide a variety of data about a missing person, including their physical description, data about their closest living relative(s) and any additional details about the circumstances and location of their disappearance. This information can also be accessed and updated at a later stage by authorized users.
“We believe that this online resource will be invaluable in missing persons scenarios related, for example, to Libya and Syria,” Ms. Bomberger said. “In these countries the current violence makes it impossible to sustain a systematic and effective effort to account for missing persons, but in both cases there is an urgent need to assist refugees and others by launching a process to collect data. The OIC makes it possible to mount such a program.”
The OIC can also play an important role among European countries that are now struggling to address the migration crisis. ICMP is already working with the authorities in Italy, where currently there are thousands of unidentified bodies, many of which are the remains of drowned migrants. The OIC makes it possible for family members in Africa, for example, to provide information about an individual who may have set out for Europe but who has not been heard from and is now feared missing. At the same time, relevant government agencies can provide the OIC with information about individuals who have arrived in a particular country. In this way the OIC can help families to account for their missing relatives.
In addition to providing access to biographical information stored in ICMP’s database, the OIC enables users to track the status of cases related to a country or region where ICMP is operating or participating in a DNA-led identification program.
The restructured OIC was introduced on the International Day of the Disappeared as part of ICMP’s continuing effort to address the global challenge of the missing.
ICMP was founded on 29 June 1996 to spearhead the effort to account for the 40,000 people who were missing as a result of the conflict in the former Yugoslavia. Twenty years later, more than 70 percent of those people have been accounted for (including 7,000 of the 8,000 victims of the Srebrenica genocide). This is an unprecedented achievement that demonstrates that missing persons can be found using new technologies and in cooperation with governments, families of the missing and relevant international organizations.
In 2001 ICMP created a standing capacity to use DNA as the first line in conducting large-scale identifications of missing persons. This revolutionized the process and provided scientific evidence of identity that could be used for criminal trial purposes. ICMP also transformed how data is collected, safeguarded and shared in a manner that meets the privacy requirements of families of the missing and the obligation of states to find the missing. In 2003 ICMP began to operate globally, and today it is active throughout the world, exercising a mandate to secure the cooperation of governments and others in locating and identifying missing persons from conflict, migration, human rights abuses, disasters, crime and other causes, working with governments to establish legal frameworks, technical capacity and social consensus that makes it possible to launch and sustain effective strategies to account for the missing.
To access ICMP’s redesigned OIC, please click here.