The Hague, 30 August 2021 – The International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP), together with Iraqi partners, today launched a strategic policy meeting on “Missing Persons in Iraq: The Way Forward”. The objective of the three-day meeting, initiated on the occasion of the International Day of the Disappeared, is to enhance Iraqi efforts to account for all missing persons, regardless of sectarian, or national background or the time period, location, or circumstances of their disappearance.
“This meeting in The Hague brings together government representatives from across Iraq, including representatives from ministries and institutions that have particular responsibility for this issue. The object is to develop a joint strategy to account for missing persons and to secure the rights of all families of the missing,” ICMP Director-General Kathryne Bomberger said at the opening of today’s meeting.
The event will focus on a multi-pronged strategy that includes the creation of a centralized Iraqi mechanism to account for Iraq’s missing; the establishment of a Central Record of all missing persons; enhancing legislative measures, including implementing the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance through domestic legislation; advancing the use of state-of-the-art data systems and scientific methods to locate and identify missing persons, including a dedicated missing persons DNA laboratory; and enhancing outreach and inclusion of families of the missing and civil society in a comprehensive and effective missing persons process.
The Day of the Disappeared is observed every 30 August to advocate for missing persons and victims of enforced disappearances across the world. Iraq is estimated to have between 250,000 and one million missing persons from decades of conflict and human rights abuses.
ICMP has been engaged in Iraq since 2005 and has trained over 500 staff of Iraq’s relevant institutions in forensic archaeological and anthropological methods to strengthen domestic capacity to apply international standards while excavating mass and clandestine graves. ICMP also works to strengthen Iraqi civil society and family groups so that they ensure the government upholds their rights, and well as enabling families to contribute to accounting for missing persons through data collection and providing genetic reference samples. To support efforts to establish an Iraqi Central Record, ICMP has donated its specialized Integrated Data Management System (iDMS) to Iraq in 2021.
The Head of ICMP’s Iraq Program, Alexander Hug, said today’s event highlighted the importance of enhancing cooperation among Iraqi authorities to ensure that Iraq’s missing are accounted for in an impartial manner.
ICMP’s work in Iraq is currently supported by Germany, the Netherlands, and the United States.
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 tasked exclusively to work on the issue of missing persons.