Oslo, 10 February: Norway will support the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) in its work to assist Ukraine in locating missing persons and investigating their disappearance. Under a three-year, NOK 100 million (roughly 9,365,000 USD) project, ICMP will expand its efforts to help Ukraine address the growing number of missing persons from the on-going war and help to ensure that this work is done in such a way that in coming years it will be possible to present evidence in court and bring perpetrators to justice.
Tens of thousands of people have gone missing in Ukraine as a consequence of the Russian invasion. In addition to atrocities such as summary execution, forcible deportation, incommunicado detention, kidnapping and abduction, disappearances have resulted from mass displacement and family separation, including unlawful adoptions and human trafficking.
At the invitation of the Government of Ukraine, ICMP is helping the authorities to develop a sustainable missing persons process based on the rule of law. This includes providing access to high-volume, DNA-led identification capabilities, ensuring that evidence collected, including evidence from mass and clandestine graves, is admissible in criminal trials, supporting laboratory operations, data collection, and mass grave investigations, providing Ukrainian institutions (including the police) and the Ukrainian public with access to secure and large-scale missing persons data processing, and ensuring participation of civil society and families in the missing persons process.
“Russia’s war against Ukraine causes terrible suffering for the people of Ukraine. It is important for Norway to provide multi-year support to ICMP’s work for justice and accountability for missing people and their families. Moreover, these efforts also contribute to holding Russia accountable for its unlawful actions against Ukrainians,” the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Espen Barth Eide, said.
“Those who have disappeared, including children deported to Russia and illegally adopted, must have justice; their families must have access to the truth,” the Chair of ICMP’s Board of Commissioners, Knut Vollebæk, said today in a meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “Those responsible for mass killings and deportations must be brought to justice. Norway’s support for the effort to account for the missing in Ukraine is premised on restoring the rule of law.”
Speaking at the same event, ICMP Director-General Kathryne Bomberger expressed gratitude to Norway, she stressed that ICMP’s program will increase the capacity of families and civil society organizations to gather and share information about missing persons. “With the assistance of Norway and other countries, ICMP is helping the Ukrainian authorities to make this happen. The very fact that in the midst of an existential war on Ukraine, the government in Kyiv is endeavoring to set in place a system based on due legal process is noteworthy and deserves our support.”
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 and identifying missing persons from conflict, human rights abuses, disasters, organized crime, irregular migration and other causes and to assist them in doing so.