ICMP Facilitates Launch of Syrian-Led Policy Coordination Group for Missing Persons

Photo: Families for Freedom

The Hague, 25 February 2021 – A Syrian Policy Coordination Group (PCG) that will work to develop recommendations for a policy framework for a future missing person process in Syria, recently established with the support of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP), held an introductory meeting today.

The group’s 25 Syrian members include families of the missing, legal experts, human rights defenders, members of the Syrian Constitutional Committee, and civil society representatives residing inside and outside Syria.  International experts offer support as advisors and subject matter experts. ICMP acts as both the secretariat and facilitator of the group’s work.  The goal of the PCG is to develop a strategic policy framework to influence the development of domestic, regional and international mechanisms to find the many Syrians who are missing, both within and outside of Syria.

In today’s online meeting, group members discussed previous policy discussions facilitated by ICMP, which are outlined…

EU and ICMP help Colombian civil society organizations strengthen their participation in the missing persons process

Profiles of the Missing Colombia: Reflections from the Families of the Missing Persons on the Progress of the Implementation of the Peace Agreement

Bogota, Colombia 23 February, 2021 – Colombian civil society organizations (CSOs) involved in the country’s efforts to find those who remain missing following the 50-year conflict have grown stronger, thanks to International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) grants funded by the European Union (EU).

Twenty-two organizations were awarded grants to intensify their efforts to involve families of the missing in the country’s efforts to account for missing persons. The organizations implemented 14 projects that engaged families in the missing persons process, including by supporting memorialization events and by collecting information and sharing it with the Search Unit for Persons Listed as Disappeared (UBPD), an EU-funded institution that is a central actor in Colombia’s missing person process.

The ICMP grants, worth a total of more than USD 400,000, also covered eight Data Partnership Agreements. Under such agreements, CSOs collect data from families of the missing to contribute to a central record of…

Progress Made by Bosnia and Herzegovina in Finding the “Bugojno 21” Who Went Missing in 1993

Photo: Illustration

By Saša Kulukčija

Sarajevo, 19 February 2021 –The mortal remains of four members of a high-profile group known as the “Bugojno 21” who disappeared 1993 in the Bugojno area during the conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina have been located by the BIH authorities with support from the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP). With two of the group identified earlier, 15 remain missing.

In a sign of progress in the case, BIH’s authorities this week identified the four individuals as Zoran Galić, Dragan Miličević, Ante Markulj and Franjo Jezidžić. The identification by authorities was based on analysis and matching of DNA profiles conducted late last year at ICMP’s lab in The Hague. ICMP’s technical assistance was made possible with the financial support of the European Union.

Dijana Strujić, President of Bugojno Municipality Association of Families of Killed and Missing Soldiers of the Homeland War, said the case “showed families that they should…

ICMP to Donate Software, Computers, Servers to Support Establishment of Iraqi Central Record of Missing Persons

Fawaz Abdulabbas, ICMP Deputy Head in Iraq, during a tour of the MLD facilities held as part of a ceremony to sign donation agreements for software, computers and servers for Iraq to use to account for missing persons.

Baghdad, 18 February 2021 – Key Iraqi government entities involved in the process finding the large number of missing persons from the regime of Saddam Hussein to more recent Da’esh crimes will use a specialized data management system developed by the International Commission for Missing Persons (ICMP).

ICMP will donate its Identification Data Management System (iDMS), along with computers and servers, to help Iraq collect, process and share data, which is key to finding the over 250,000 to 1 million persons estimated to be missing by Iraqi authorities.

The donation will enable the government to take steps toward establishing a central record that includes information on all persons missing in Iraq and their families. Such records are needed in any sustainable process to find all missing persons regardless of their ethnic or religious background, their roles in conflicts or their political affiliation.

The donation will enable Iraq the Ministry of Health’s Medico-Legal…

ICMP Statement at End of Mourning Period for 104 Yezidi Victims: Efforts to Account for All of Iraq’s Missing Must Continue

12 February 2021 – At the end of the mourning period for 104 Yezidi victims who were buried last week, Alexander Hug, the head of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP)’s Iraq program, emphasized that Iraq’s efforts to account for all its missing persons must continue with urgency.

“I extend my deepest condolences to the families of the victims, and I offer my sympathies not only to them but to all of the many families in Iraq who are missing relatives from a legacy of conflict and human rights abuses, starting with the regime of Saddam Hussein and including Da’esh crimes,” Hug said. “It is essential that Iraqi authorities prioritize this issue and build a cogent strategy to find all missing persons and secure the rights of all survivors, who are primarily women. By doing so, Iraq will make a long-term investment in peace and stability.”

The mourning period for…

ICMP awards grants to associations of families of missing persons in Albania

Tirana, 1 February 2021 – Nine Albanian associations of families of missing persons and civil society organizations will work to increase participation of civil society groups and missing persons’ families, especially women, in missing persons process, using grant money awarded by the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) last week.

The grants, in total worth more than €77,000 and financed by the European Union, will also support projects that aim and to raise awareness about justice processes.

“In cases where persons are missing as a result of conflict or human rights abuses, ICMP works with survivor groups to rebuild trust between citizens and the state, and to support civil society’s participation in the creation of institutions, legislation and commemorative events and other forms of memorialization relevant to missing persons,” Matthew Holliday, Head of ICMP Western Balkans Program said at an online event held this week to kick off the projects. Addressing…

ICMP Strengthens Skills of First Responders in Northeast Syria to Find Missing Persons

The Hague, 28 January 2021 – First responders who locate persons missing from the ongoing conflict in Syria enhanced their capabilities to investigate missing persons cases in line with the rule of law and international best practice during a course held this week by the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP).

The 22 first responders based in northeast Syria learned about forensic processes and safeguarding of forensic evidence, including steps to maintain a proper chain of custody for forensic evidence from mass graves and other measures to support future accountability mechanisms. The course also covered methods to collect, store and secure reliable data related to the graves’ contents. The four-day course concluded today.

Estimates cited by the United Nations in 2019 indicate that over 100,000 persons are missing as a result of the current conflict in Syria. In addition, the country has a legacy of missing and disappeared persons cases linked…

Bournemouth Protocol on Mass Grave Protection and Investigation published

The Hague, 27 January 2021 –The protocol, developed in partnership with the International Commission on Missing Persons, aims to improve practice in relation to safeguarding and investigating mass graves.

New guidance on investigating and protecting mass graves was recently published by Bournemouth University in partnership with the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP).

The Bournemouth Protocol on Mass Grave Protection and Investigation brings together legal rules, and informed practice to support those protecting and investigating mass grave sites.

The project was led by Dr Melanie Klinkner, a Principal Academic in Law at Bournemouth University, and Dr Ellie Smith.

Dr Klinkner said: “Mass graves contain evidence that is essential to the realisation of truth, justice and perpetrator accountability. Effective rules and procedures for the protection, maintenance and investigation of mass graves are therefore vital.

“The Bournemouth Protocol on Mass Grave Protection and Investigation is defining standards on this crucial issue by collating and clarifying…

Workshop strengthens Iraqi civil society’s ability to contribute to efforts to account for missing persons

By Danara Dourdoussova

Baghdad, 17 December 2020 – Representatives from 24 civil society organizations (CSOs) across Iraq recently took part in a workshop to strengthen their ability to respond to the needs of the families of the missing and forcibly disappeared.

Topics addressed during the workshop included the role of CSOs in responding to the needs of the families of forcibly disappeared and other missing persons; reporting missing persons to Iraqi authorities and to the UN mechanisms, and developing a national legal framework that protects all persons from enforced disappearance in line with the International Convention on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance. Workshop participants said CSOs and international experts should be part of Iraq’s efforts in these fields.

The workshop, held 7-9 December, was organized by the Human Rights Office of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) jointly with the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) and…

Western Balkan Missing Persons Group Reaffirms Commitment to Regional Cooperation

Sarajevo, 16 December 2020 – In an event today with representatives of the Berlin Process participants, members of the Western Balkan Missing Persons Group (MPG) said they plan to intensify their cooperation, information sharing and engagement with families to strengthen work to account for missing persons across the region.

The MPG comprises senior representatives of the institutions in the region that are responsible for addressing missing persons issues. It was created in 2018, in the context of the Western Balkans Berlin Process, to strengthen efforts to find those who remain missing following the 1990s conflicts on the territory of former Yugoslavia.

The group presented its second annual report during the event, which was co-organized by the United Kingdom Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office and the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP). The report notes the MPG’s efforts to actively involve families of the missing in the regional cooperation process by sharing…