Albanian Family Associations and Non-Governmental Organizations Enhance Cooperation to Address the Issue of Persons Missing During the Communist Era

Tirana, 25 January 2022 – Nine Albanian Family Associations (FAs) and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to work collaboratively to address the issue of persons missing during the communist era in Albania as the result of the systematic violations of human rights from the former communist regime.

All nine signatories of the Memorandum of Understanding are beneficiaries of ICMP’s small grants program in Albania, which was funded by the European Union and the Swiss Government in 2020-2021.

It is estimated that around 6,000 persons went missing under the communist regime in Albania in the period between 1944 and 1991. According to official data, 5,501 persons convicted for political reasons were executed extrajudicially during this period. Their bodies were never returned to their families. Official data also indicates that an additional 987 political prisoners died from various causes in prisons and detention centers in Albania. The whereabouts…

ICMP-Facilitated Syrian Policy Coordination Group Adopts Proposed Constitutional Principles on Syria’s Missing and Disappeared

Photo from previous PCG meeting.

The Hague, 21 December 2021: – The Policy Coordination Group (PCG), a Syrian-led initiative on the missing and disappeared facilitated by the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP), adopted a set of Proposed Constitutional Principles on Syria’s Missing and Disappeared today.

These principles address the legacy of systematic human rights violations in Syria, including the widespread practice of enforced disappearance, and the need to establish rights-based guarantees to protect all persons from going missing or from being disappeared.

The document adopted today by the PCG is divided into two sections and a descriptive annex. The first section includes provisions directly related to the issue of the missing, including the right to life and dignity, safeguards against the deprivation of liberty, and transitional justice measures. The second lists provisions that are indirectly linked to the missing persons issue such as supporting a political transition based on the rule of law and the separation…

ICMP and Nadia’s Initiative Launch Collaborative Effort to Help Families of Missing Persons

The Hague, 11 December 2021: – The International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) and Nadia’s Initiative, the international non-governmental organization founded by Nobel Peace Laureate and Yazidi survivor Nadia Murad, have agreed to partner on efforts to provide support to families of missing individuals in Iraq, Syria, and elsewhere.

Under a Memorandum of Understanding signed by ICMP Director-General Kathryne Bomberger and Nadia’s Initiative Executive Director Abid Shamdeen at ICMP’s Headquarters in The Hague today, the two organizations will implement a series of activities throughout 2022 designed to support the families of persons who went missing as a result of conflict and human rights abuses. Nadia’s Initiative and ICMP will develop learning and development programs to educate family members on the responsibilities of the state, legal frameworks, excavation and identification processes, and memorial events for missing persons. This knowledge will, in turn, help build civil leadership capacity, particularly that of female…

International Human Rights Day: ICMP Highlights Experience of Yazidi Families of the Missing

The Hague, 11 December 2021 – On the occasion of International Human Rights Day, the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) brought together Yazidi families of the missing to discuss the issue of missing persons from Da’esh crimes, and to commemorate those who disappeared, with a memorial concert and photography exhibition.

Da’esh’s invasion of the Iraqi province of Sinjar in 2014 resulted in the deaths 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 in Iraq and Syria.

At the panel discussion held in The Hague, ICMP Director-General Kathryne Bomberger stressed that, “Successful efforts to account for those who are missing depend on the proactive participation of families and of civil society as a whole.” She said it was necessary for government agencies “to work closely with families in order to implement a missing…

ICMP Extends Condolences to Yazidi Families Of Victims of Da’esh Atrocities Being Buried Today

The Hague, 9 December 2021: – The remains of 41 recently-identified victims of August 2014 Da’esh atrocities in Northern Iraq were buried today at a ceremony in the village of Kocho in Sinjar.

Over the past several years, the Iraqi authorities have located and recovered a number of mass graves related to crimes committed by Da’esh against the Yezidi population in Kocho village, near Sinjar.  During this period, the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) has provided technical and logistical support in the excavation of different sites, and collaborated with the UN Investigative Team to Promote Accountability for Crimes Committed by Da’esh/ISIL (UNITAD).  In addition, ICMP has provided support to the Iraqi teams to collect genetic reference samples from families of the missing, in order to help Iraq, identify missing persons from these crimes through a DNA-led process of identifications, making it possible to identify the remains buried today.

“States have…

Victims Found in Mass Grave in Kalinovik Linked to July 1995 Srebrenica Genocide

The Hague, 8 December 2021: – The International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) is assisting the Bosnia and Herzegovina (BIH) authorities in identifying human remains exhumed from the Dobro Polje site near Kalinovik in June 2021. Biological samples were taken from the exhumed remains and matched with reference samples provided to ICMP by relatives of the missing who last saw them alive in Srebrenica in July 1995. On 8 December 2021, ICMP submitted DNA match reports on ten Srebrenica victims to the BIH Missing Persons Institute (MPI).

“The Kalinovik site is the first mass grave linked to the July 1995 Srebrenica genocide to be exhumed since the exhumation at Kozluk in April 2016,” said Matthew Holliday, the Head of ICMP’s Western Balkans Program. “What is unusual about the Kalinovik site is that of all the Srebrenica genocide gravesites that have been recovered to date, it is by far the furthest…

ICMP Pays Tribute to Former Chairman Bob Dole

The Hague, 5 December 2021: – Ambassador Thomas Miller, Chairman of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP), on Sunday paid tribute to former ICMP Chairman Bob Dole, who died on Sunday at the age of 98.

Senator Dole, who succeeded former US Secretary of State Cyrus Vance as ICMP Chair in 1997 and served until 2001, helped to steer the organization in the years immediately after it was established to assist the countries of the former Yugoslavia in accounting for 40,000 people who had gone missing during the conflicts of the 1990s.

“Bob Dole took the helm of ICMP near the start of a trajectory that would see it develop a model for accounting for the missing that is now being applied throughout the world,” Ambassador Miller said. “During his chairmanship, ICMP embarked on preparations for a process of mass DNA-based identification that had never been tried before. It was…

Greek Minister for Migration Hosts Third ICMP-Facilitated Discussion On Missing Migrants in the Mediterranean with Cyprus, Italy and Malta

19 November 2021: Representatives of Cyprus, Greece, Italy, and Malta participated today in the third meeting of the Joint Process, facilitated by the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) at the Ministry of Migration and Asylum of Greece in Athens, to discuss the way forward in the effort to account for missing migrants and refugees in the Mediterranean region. Since the beginning of 2014, more than 23,000 people have died or gone missing attempting to reach Europe.

At a meeting convened by ICMP in Rome in June 2018, the same four European Mediterranean countries launched a Joint Process to expand cooperation and enhance domestic capabilities to account for missing migrants and refugees. The four countries agreed to work with ICMP to assess their investigatory capacities, to propose strategies to redress possible shortcomings, and to enhance cooperation.

Speaking at today’s meeting, Greece’s Minister for Migration and Asylum, Notis Mitarachi, said the Joint Process should be extended to more Mediterranean…

20 Years Ago Today ICMP Issued First DNA Match to Support Identifying Tens of Thousands Missing from the Former-Yugoslav Conflicts

The Hague, 16 November 2021: – On this day, 20 years ago, ICMP issued its first DNA match report. As a result of this report, the body of a 15-year old boy who had disappeared at Srebrenica was identified. This marked the start of a revolutionary new process using advanced database and DNA technology to identify large numbers of persons missing from armed conflict and human rights abuses.

“Working with families of the missing and governments in the Western Balkans, ICMP became the first organization to successfully implement a population-based, DNA-led identification process in a post-conflict environment. The use of DNA not only increased the speed of identifications, but also provided irrefutable evidence of a person’s identity that could be linked back to the original crime scene,” said Kathryne Bomberger, Director-General of ICMP.  “This process has enabled families of the missing to secure their rights to truth and justice and…

ICMP-Facilitated Syrian Policy Coordination Group on Missing and Detained persons Finalizes Constitutional Principles on Syria’s Missing

The Hague, 11 November 2021 – The Policy Coordination Group (PCG), a Syrian-led initiative on the missing and disappeared facilitated by the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP), today finalized a draft paper on proposed constitutional principles related to Syria’s missing.

The constitutional principles not only address the legacy of systematic human rights violations in Syria, including the widespread practice of enforced disappearance, but also the need to establish rights-based guarantees to protect all persons from going missing or from being disappeared. The paper is divided into provisions directly related to the issue of missing persons, such as rights related to the dignity of life, safeguards against the deprivation of liberty, and transitional justice measures, and provisions indirectly linked to the issue that support a political transition based on the rule of law and the separation of powers.

Today’s virtual meeting was the fifth session of the PCG since it was…