ICMP Moves Forward with Program to Help Ukraine Account for Thousands of Missing

The Hague, 30 May 2022: Ukraine’s Prosecutor General, Iryna Venediktova, visited the Headquarters of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) in The Hague today. After touring ICMP’s DNA laboratory, Ms Venediktova and ICMP Director-General Kathryne Bomberger discussed ICMP’s program to help the authorities in Ukraine establish an effective, long-term strategy to account for thousands of people who have gone missing as a result of the conflict.

In April 2022, the authorities requested urgent ICMP assistance, based on an exchange of diplomatic notes and a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed in Kyiv in 2021. The MoU includes ICMP support for capacity building for Ukraine, including through assistance with DNA-based human identification, establishing a Central Register of Missing Persons, and building consensus between civil society and the authorities.

“Efficient data collection will play an indispensable role in the process,” Director-General Bomberger said after her meeting with the Prosecutor General. “Tens of thousands of Ukrainians have been displaced, which means the authorities will have to reach out to families in different parts of the country and beyond. A missing persons process based on the rule of law, upholding international standards in the management of crime scenes and applying state-of the art forensic science and database technology, will make it possible to reunite families and will facilitate the prosecution of those accused of war crimes and other human rights violations.”

ICMP’s Ukraine Program will support data reporting and data collection (including genetic reference samples) from families, provide technical and material support, including mortuary-based analyses and evidence-gathering, facilitate coordination among stakeholders, and support efforts to ensure that the missing persons strategy aligns with the investigative strategies of the International Criminal Court, as well as domestic processes.

In July 2014, ICMP deployed with INTERPOL at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight17, which was shot down by Russia-backed rebels over eastern Ukraine en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.  ICMP worked with the Netherlands Forensic Institute to make DNA-based identifications in some of the most difficult of the 298 cases.

In September 2014, at the invitation of Ukraine’s then Prosecutor General, ICMP conducted a fact-finding mission to Kyiv, following which ICMP recommended that the authorities establish a central entity to coordinate missing persons investigations, create a mechanism for collecting and processing data on missing persons, and build the capacities of civil society and public institutions. Ukraine subsequently adopted a number of measures in line with these recommendations, enacting the Law on the Legal Status of Missing Persons in 2018, and issuing decrees establishing a Central Register for Missing Persons.

 

About ICMP

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.