The Hague, 3 August 2022 – Today marks the 8th anniversary of crimes committed against the Yazidi population in Iraq. When Da’esh invaded the Iraqi province of Sinjar in 2014, more than 5,000 men were killed and 7,000 people, mainly women and children, were abducted. A significant number of those who were abducted are still missing.
On this somber anniversary the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) reaffirms its commitment to help the Iraqi authorities find missing persons and investigate their disappearance and to help Yazidi families of the missing secure their rights to truth and justice.
ICMP Director-General Kathryne Bomberger said today that “surviving families must be able to access their fundamental right to truth, justice and reparations.” She commended the courage and strength that has been shown by Yazidi families and other families of the missing in Iraq, as they demand that the remaining missing persons are found and their disappearances investigated.
Ms Bomberger noted that, “States have the primary responsibility to investigate missing persons cases from conflict and human rights abuses, and to hold perpetrators to account,” and she stressed that, as a signatory to the International Convention on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, Iraq has specific obligations. She noted that the authorities have already taken a number of successful steps, including campaigns to collect DNA reference samples from families of the missing and, excavating more than 100 mass graves at nine locations, including mass graves in Sinjar.
Following the liberation of Sinjar, ICMP immediately assisted the domestic authorities in protecting mass graves and other sites of forensic interest, so that they could be properly investigated in line with the Iraqi Law on Mass Grave Affairs. Over the last five years, ICMP has provided technical, material, and financial support to state institutions in charge of reference sample collection from Yazidi families of the missing and mass grave excavations in Kocho village and elsewhere. This has enabled the state to collect reference samples from Yazidi families through several campaigns, and to excavate 20 mass grave sites in Sinjar applying international standards. This support follows decades of training in mass grave excavation and in applying cutting-edge DNA identification methodologies to help identify all missing persons.
ICMP’s Iraq program is currently supported by the governments of 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 the only international organization tasked exclusively to work on the issue of missing persons.