An Effective Approach To the Issue of Missing Migrants

The Hague, 21 February 2019: At a workshop organized in Malta today by the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP), in cooperation with Missing People UK, participants noted that states in the Mediterranean have the means to account for large numbers of missing migrants and refugees, and can do this effectively if they adopt a pragmatic and systematic approach.

The workshop, entitled “Accounting for the Missing Is an Investment in Peace”, included testimony from individuals who have travelled on migration routes and who have experienced at first hand the disappearance of a loved one on their journey. It was part of the “Lost in Migration” conference organized by the President’s Foundation for the Well-being of Society and the NGO Missing Children Europe.

“Families of the missing are always the center, and often at the forefront of the process of accounting for missing persons, and…

Accounting for the Missing Is an Investment in Peace

The Hague, 19 February 2019: The Mediterranean remains the scene of daily tragedies, even if the reduction in the number of migrants reaching Europe has reduced media coverage of these tragedies, the Director-General of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP), Kathryne Bomberger, wrote in an opinion piece that appeared in The Times of Malta today.

She noted that, “while fewer refugees have tried to make the journey, fatalities and disappearances have continued. In the first month of 2019, the number was already well into the hundreds,” and she added that refugees and migrants sent back to embarkation ports, many of them in Libya, have routinely been subject to arbitrary detention.

Ms Bomberger highlighted “an urgent need to mobilize existing capacities among European countries such as Cyprus, Greece, Malta and Italy”. She pointed out that all four countries expressed a strong interest during an ICMP meeting held in Rome in June…

Srebrenica: No Room for Revisionism

The Hague, 15 February: In August 2018, the Republika Srpska (RS) National Assembly annulled the “Report of the Commission for Investigation of the Events in and around Srebrenica between 10 and 19 July 1995”, which had been produced for the RS Government in 2004. The current RS Government has now announced the setting up of two new commissions to investigate events in and around Srebrenica and in Sarajevo during the conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

For more than two decades, the International Commission on Missing persons (ICMP) has led the effort to account for those who went missing during the conflict and to uphold the rights of families of the missing to truth, justice and reparations, regardless of national, ethnic or religious affiliation. The facts established by the RS Government Report 15 years ago have been confirmed by international and domestic criminal courts, and they are supported by systematic forensic…

ICMP Charts Future Path with Iraqi Authorities

The Hague, 15 February 2019: Representatives of the Iraqi institutions dealing with the issue of missing persons met throughout this week at the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) Headquarters in The Hague to examine ways in which ICMP can help Iraq to account for hundreds of thousands of missing people, including those who have gone missing as a result of Da’esh crimes.

The meeting concluded with a set of recommendations on concrete steps through which ICMP can assist the authorities of Iraq during 2019 and beyond. These recommendations respond to a set of challenges defined in “Mass Graves in Iraq” a document produced by the Department of Protection and Mass Graves Affairs of the Martyrs’ Foundation.

In Iraq, between 250,000 and one million people have gone missing from decades of conflict and human rights abuse. Iraq has taken very positive steps to address…

ICMP Welcomes Continued Dutch Support To Address the Global Missing Persons Challenge 

Photo is a courtesy of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs

The Hague, 22 January 2019: The Government of the Kingdom of the Netherlands is a key strategic partner for the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP), supporting ICMP’s Headquarters in The Hague and supporting its core functions and country programs around the world, ICMP Director-General Kathryne Bomberger said today.  

Ms Bomberger was speaking after a meeting in The Hague with Foreign Minister Stef Blok. She highlighted the fact that “the Netherlands was one of the key players behind the signing – with the United Kingdom, Belgium, Luxembourg and Sweden – of the ICMP Agreement in December 2014,” and noted that the Agreement, which establishes ICMP as the only international organization in the world that exclusively addresses the issue of missing and disappeared persons, “reflects the emerging international consensus about the nature and scale of the global missing persons issue and the urgent need to tackle this issue in a coherent and effective way.”   

The Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) facilitated ICMP’s move to Headquarters in The Hague in 2015 and also ICMP’s laboratory transition to The Hague, which was completed at the end of 2017. Since this relocation, ICMP has developed its existing partnership…

Meeting of ICMP Conference of States Parties

The Hague, 18 December: Representatives of states and organizations that support the work of the International Commission on Missing persons (ICMP) gathered today at ICMP’s headquarters in The Hague for the second meeting of the ICMP Conference of States Parties (CSP). The first CSP meeting was held in October 2015, just under a year after ICMP became a treaty-based intergovernmental organization.

At today’s meeting, Chile assumed the presidency of the CSP, taking over from the United Kingdom. The meeting was chaired by Chile’s Ambassador to the Netherlands Maria Teresa Infante. Ambassador Infante opened the meeting by asking colleagues to observe a minute’s silence to commemorate the contribution of the late Wim Kok, to ICMP and to the global effort to account for missing persons. Mr Kok, a former Dutch prime minister, became an ICMP Commissioner in 2002 and was…

Profiles of the Missing: Call for Coordinated Action To Address Issue of Missing Persons from the Syrian Conflict

The Hague 10 December 2018: Families of missing persons are entitled to solidarity, from governments and others, Her Majesty Queen Noor said today, adding that, as well as solidarity, “they need us to understand the nature of their struggle. We must listen and we must act.”

HM Queen Noor was speaking at a conference on “Syria: Effective Responses” organized at the Representation of the European Commission in Berlin today by the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP).

ICMP’s Syria/MENA Program, launched with EU funding in 2017, is working on a range of activities including collecting personal data from families – a key step toward establishing an effective process that can be expanded after a peace settlement. In Berlin today, ICMP brought representatives of families of the missing, from Syria and elsewhere, together with experts and senior policymakers to examine strategies that families can adopt in order to access their rights to…

Accounting for the Missing in the Western Balkans Continues with the Support of the United Kingdom

Sarajevo 4 December 2018: The International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) has convened the first meeting of the Missing Persons Group (MPG), in Herceg Novi, Montenegro. The MPG will supervise operations under the Framework Plan signed in November in The Hague by the representatives of the domestic institutions responsible for missing persons issues in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Montenegro and Serbia.

At the two-day meeting, which ended today, the MPG clearly defined the next steps to resolve as many as possible of the estimated 12,000 missing persons cases that are still outstanding. This includes action to resolve “NN” (no name, or unidentified) cases in mortuaries across the region through targeted pilot projects; procedures for sharing data on the missing and potential locations of clandestine gravesites among the members of the MPG; and joint participation at excavations of mutual interest.

Matthew Holliday, the Head of ICMP’s Western Balkans Program, commended the…

Addressing the Issue of Missing Persons in Sri Lanka

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 The Hague, 29 November 2018: Four of the seven members of Sri Lanka’s Office on Missing Persons (OMP) visited the headquarters of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) in The Hague this week to learn about ICMP’s programs on legislative and institutional development, civil society engagement, data processing, and DNA-led forensic techniques for human identification.

Commissioners Nimalka Fernando, Mirak Raheem, Kanapathipillai Venthan, and S.K Liyanage were briefed by staff from ICMP’s Civil Society Initiatives, Science & Technology, Database Management & Coordination, and Policy & Cooperation programs.

The delegation explained some of the challenges and strategic objectives of the OMP, which was established in February 2018, after President Maithripala Sirisena approved the appointment of the seven Commissioners of the OMP, a year and a half after the OMP was established by act of parliament.

OMP Commissioners are appointed for three-year terms and the OMP is mandated to address all disappearances arising from…

Albania Ratifies Agreement with ICMP

Tirana, 15 November 2018: In Tirana today, the Albanian Parliament ratified a Cooperation Agreement between the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Albania and the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP).

The Agreement enables ICMP to assist the Albanian authorities in their efforts to search for and identify persons who went missing during the communist era in Albania. The Agreement regulates ICMP’s status in Albania, and lays out the duties and responsibilities of the signatories in the missing persons process.

“ICMP applauds the ratification of the Agreement and the courage of the Albanian authorities in tackling this very sensitive issue from Albania’s communist past,” said Matthew Holliday, the Head of ICMP’s Western Balkans Program.

Mr. Holliday said a Pilot Project funded by the European Union, which will now get under way, will focus on two specific locations, Dajti and Ballsh.

ICMP will use cutting-edge DNA technology to assist the Albanian authorities in…