Global Report on Missing Persons: Key Challenges & Strategic Opportunities

The Hague, 27 August 2021 – The first edition of the Global Report on Missing persons, published today, ahead of the International Day of the Disappeared, examines why increasing numbers of people are going missing around the world, why many remain missing, and the policies that governments and others can implement in order to address this issue in effective ways.

Published by the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) with the support of the United Kingdom, the Global Report brings together the work of distinguished academics and practitioners to explore key challenges and strategic opportunities in the global effort to account for large numbers of missing persons.

The first edition of the Global Report examines the issue of missing persons as a result of irregular migration in the Mediterranean, Central America and East Asia, and disappearances in the context of conflicts in Africa and South Asia. Topics are studied from…

ICMP collects DNA samples from EU-based Syrian families

The Hague, 20 August 2021 – The International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) today completed the first phase of a campaign to collect DNA samples from Syrian families living in Europe whose relatives have gone missing either in Syria as a result of the conflict, or along migration routes after fleeing the conflict.

From 29 July to 20 August, Syrian families in Germany and the Netherlands, who have missing relatives, were invited to provide genetic reference samples to assist in reuniting families and locating missing persons. The “Act in their Absence” campaign, supported by the German Federal Foreign Office and the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, is one element in a long-term missing persons process that ICMP is helping to establish. The process will endeavor to account for missing persons from the Syria conflict who are still alive as well as those who are deceased.

ICMP is collecting information on missing…

ICMP Marks the 7th Anniversary of Da’esh Invasion of Sinjar with Yazidi NGOs in The Hague

The Hague, 3 August 2021: The International Commission on Missing Persons hosted a day-long event at its headquarters in The Hague today to mark the 7th Anniversary of the Da’esh invasion of Sinjar. The events included a roundtable discussion on the process of locating missing Yazidis and securing their rights, and a commemoration event organized by the Yazidi Legal Network.

On 3 August, Da’esh invaded the Iraqi province of Sinjar, which resulted in the death of more than 5,000 men and the abduction of 7,000 people, mainly women and children. A significant number of those who were abducted are still missing. Speaking at the roundtable, ICMP Director-General Kathryne Bomberger emphasized that: “It is essential to continue with urgency the efforts of Iraqi national authorities, together with ICMP, to account for all those who are still missing in Iraq, including those who went missing as a result of the Yazidi Genocide…

ICMP Presentation Commemorates Missing Persons in Colombia

The Hague, 15 July 2021: The International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) has inaugurated an online digital presentation, which was presented this week in Bogota and at ICMP’s Headquarters in The Hague. The presentation features personal artefacts donated to ICMP by families of the missing in Colombia. The launch was part of an event hosted by ICMP to mark the completion of the first phase of its Colombia Program. The artistic intervention was developed by Creative Court, a Hague-based organization that works at the interface of art and global justice.

Participants at the event highlighted the indispensable role being played by families of the missing in Colombia, and the importance of effective commemoration.

“Families are central to the process of accounting for their missing loved ones and their initiatives to commemorate their relatives remind us of the same shared struggle,’ ICMP Director-General Kathryne Bomberger said. ‘This event focuses on the importance of…

Syria Policy Group Adopts Ethical Charter on Data Collection

The Hague, 13 July 2021 – The Policy Coordination Group (PCG), a Syrian-led initiative on the missing and disappeared facilitated by ICMP, this week adopted an Ethical Charter.

This Charter contains ethical standards and codes of conduct to be followed during data collection and documentation of missing persons. The Charter prioritizes the rights of victims and embodies a rights-based approach to accounting for missing persons. It stipulates that data must be processed according to clearly stated legal provisions, while maintaining confidentiality, transparency, neutrality and non-discrimination. The principles outlined in the Ethical Charter apply to all forms of data and evidence, from oral testimonies to the handling of human remains exhumed from mass and clandestine graves.

The Ethical Charter establishes a set of principles to guide data collection and documentation and support best practice. Some of these principles are already enshrined in international instruments, while others reflect lessons learned from more than…

Srebrenica Genocide: Upholding the Truth is Essential for Peace

A piece of art created by Šejla Kamerić is displayed on the Srebrenica Memorial as part of events to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the genocide. Photo: ICMP

The Hague, 11 July 2021: The truth about the Srebrenica Genocide of 1995 must be upheld; efforts to account for those who are still missing must continue; and perpetrators must be brought to justice, Kathryne Bomberger, Director-General of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP), said today.

Speaking on the 26th anniversary of the Srebrenica Genocide, Ms. Bomberger said: “Today, we stand together with 19 families who are burying their loved ones and with all those who are fighting for truth and justice . The effort to account for those who went missing at Srebrenica and throughout the former Yugoslavia is an essential element in reinstating the rule of law. Truth and justice are essential for lasting peace.”

In July 1995, Bosnian Serb forces overran Srebrenica, killing around 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys and expelling women, children and elderly from the town. The International Court of Justice (ICJ) and the…

FARC Search Commission shares information with Colombian Search Unit through support from ICMP

Photo: UBPD. Press Conference recording:

Bogotá, June 30, 2021 – Former combatants who are part of the FARC Search Commission for Missing Persons recently provided Colombia’s Search Unit for Missing Persons (UBPD) with information related to 15 cases of missing persons to assist the UBPD’s efforts. The International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) supported the FARC Search Commission’s data collection work.

The cases are related to disappearances in Antioquia, Caquetá, Nariño, Meta and Arauca departments. ICMP’s support to the FARC Search Commission’s information gathering, and to similar efforts conducted by other civil society organizations, is part of a European Union-financed program that seeks to build capacity and enhance collaboration between authorities and civil society in the process of accounting for the missing.

Documentation of information such as the circumstances of disappearance and burial sites is key to efforts to account for the missing. Groups including the FARC Search Commission that collect and share information with authorities…

ICMP coordinates roundtable with Iraqi committee focused on accounting for missing persons in Sinjar

Baghdad, June 30 2021 – Representatives of the Federal Government of Iraq, the Kurdistan Regional Government and the Yazidi community in Iraq discussed ongoing efforts to account for missing persons in Sinjar at a recent meeting coordinated by the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP).

The 22 June meeting of the Committee for the Nineveh Governorate as stipulated by Article Six of the Law on Mass Grave Affairs (Sinjar Committee Six), held in Erbil, addressed the importance of increased coordination, information sharing, and planning between members for joint work on mass graves in Sinjar.

Article Six of the Iraqi Law on Mass Graves Affairs mandates the establishment of intergovernmental committees when mass graves are found in Iraq. Several such committees, comprising members chosen with consideration of the mass graves’ locations, exist in Iraq.

The Sinjar Committee Six also discussed ways to communicate with the media and the return of remains in accordance…

Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Missing Persons Institute and ICMP strengthen cooperation

Sarajevo 23 June 2021 – The International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) and the Missing Persons Institute of Bosnia and Herzegovina (MPI) will further strengthen their cooperation to account for missing persons, under an agreement that was signed today in Sarajevo.

“The agreement strengthens our cooperation with the aim to account for as many missing persons as possible in line with rule of law, in order to uphold the rights of all families of the missing to truth and justice,” said Matthew Holliday, the Head of ICMP’s Western Balkans Program. “Bosnia and Herzegovina’s authorities, assisted by ICMP, have so far accounted for 75 percent of the 30,000 persons reported missing as a consequence of the 1990s conflict. The agreement will enable us to reinforce our efforts to the 7,000 persons still missing.”

The agreement, which is prescribed by Article 12 of the Agreement on Assuming the Role of Co-founders of the…

ICMP welcomes Colombian civil society’s call for coordination on search for victims of enforced disappearances

CSO Corporación Jurídica Libertad. Organizaciones de la sociedad civil proponen estrategias para la búsqueda de casi 4 mil personas en Medellín y el Valle de Aburrá - Cj Libertad

The Hague, the Netherlands, 21 June 2021 – A recent proposal from 19 civil society organizations based in Antioquia, Colombia, that offers a roadmap for coordinating institutions involved in the search for victims of enforced disappearances is a welcome initiative that should be acted upon so that missing persons are found, the Director-General of the International Commission for Missing Persons, Kathryne Bomberger, said today.

The proposal includes a draft decree to create a Working Group on Enforced Disappearances from Antioquia Department that would delineate roles and responsibilities among the involved institutions. The organizations delivered the proposal to regional and national authorities including the Antioquia governor, the Medellin mayor and the regional prosecutor’s office, as well as national institutions including the Unit for the Search for Missing Persons (UBPD).

“Colombia has legal and institutional frameworks in place for efforts to account for its many missing persons….