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…

25 years after Dayton: Bosnian experts and families of the missing take stock of achievements, next steps in finding the missing

Sarajevo, 14 December 2020 –  In an online event organized by ICMP today, Bosnian families of the missing and representatives of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s institutions discussed the country’s achievement in finding over 75 percent of the 30,000 persons missing from the 1990s conflict and its on-going efforts to secure the rights of families and citizens to justice, truth and reparations.

At the event, organized with UK financial support titled “Profiles of the Missing: Missing Persons – 25 Years after Dayton”, participants reflected on the hopes and expectations in the aftermath of the Dayton Peace Accords, which were signed 14 December 1995 in Paris, and on achievements resulting from Bosnia and Herzegovina’s efforts to develop a legal and institutional framework for impartial and effective investigations of missing persons cases.

“This achievement was a massive undertaking spearheaded by the relentless, courageous work of the surviving families of the missing, many of whom are…

Colombia’s missing in focus of livestreamed event organized by ICMP, Search Unit for Persons Listed as Disappeared (UBPD)

Bogota, Colombia 9 December 2020 – Relatives of some of Colombia’s many missing persons will share their stories in an event organized this week by the International Commission on Missing Persons and Colombia’s Search Unit for Persons Listed as Disappeared (UBPD).

Speakers in the online panel event also include ICMP Commissioner Her Majesty Queen Noor of Jordan, UBPD Director Luz Marina Monzón Cifuentes, EU Deputy Head of EU Delegation in Colombia Lars Bredal and ICMP Commissioner and former Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders. Participants will discuss Colombia’s progress in work to account for missing persons following the 2016 Peace Agreement.

The event, titled Profiles of the Missing: Families of the missing reflect on progress in the implementation of the Peace Agreement, is set to start at 11:30 (Colombia time) on Friday 11 December and will be streamed live on ICMP Facebook.

The Search Unit estimates that 120,000 persons are missing as…

Syrian Women Must Have Leadership Roles in the Missing Persons Process

Idleb, Syria May 2020 – A wife holds the photo of her missing husband. The majority of those missing in the context of Syria are men, which means there are large numbers of women and children survivors who face multiple challenges and need sustainable support to overcome these. Photographer: Mohammad Khaddor

The Hague, 08 November 2020 – Syrian women whose family members are missing face multiple challenges and need sustainable support to overcome these, representatives of Syrian civil society organizations (CSOs) said in a series of discussion sessions recently organized by the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP).

The discussions with women-led CSOs focus on ways in which Syrian civil society and the international community can support Syrian women with missing relatives. The discussion sessions, financed by the United Kingdom, were held around 25 November, are part of a larger IMP program to engage and promote the active engagement of Syrian Civil Society in the missing persons process.

Over 100,000 persons are missing as a result of the current conflict in Syria, according to estimates cited by the UN in 2019.  In addition, Syria has a legacy of missing and disappeared persons cases linked to human rights abuses and other causes that…

Iraqi authorities, with ICMP support, to collect data and blood samples from families with missing relatives in Southern Iraq

Baghdad 6 December 2020 – As part of work that aims to identify missing persons, Iraqi authorities – supported by the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) – will be at several sites in Southern Iraq to collect information and blood samples for DNA analysis from families of missing persons for 10 days starting 6 December.

The campaign to collect information and blood drops for genetic testing, targets families whose relatives went missing in atrocities at Badoush prison, where Da’esh allegedly massacred hundreds of prisoners in 2014. Work to excavate a mass grave near the prison is resuming, following a hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Mass Graves Directorate (MGD) of the Martyrs’ Foundation (MF) and the Medico-Legal Directorate (MLD) of the Ministry of Health, as well as ICMP experts, will meet families with missing relatives in Basra, Dhi Qhar, Missan and Wassit for one to three days each. The…

ICMP assists Serbia in excavation of mass grave near Raška

Raška, Serbia 30 November 2020 – Experts from the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) today began providing technical forensic assistance at the request of Serbia’s Government Commission on Missing Persons at the exhumation of skeletal remains at the disused Kizevak quarry near Raska in southern Serbia.

The site is believed to hold remains of Kosovo Albanians missing from the 1999 conflict. Authorities have used ICMP DNA-matching reports to identify more than 2,500 of the 4,500 people estimated missing from the Kosovo conflict.

In 2015, supporting the Serbian Commission on Missing Persons, ICMP monitored the initial phase of the excavation at the Kizevak site. However, no human remains were found at that time. Efforts to locate the gravesite continued iteratively until earlier this month when the Serbian Commission found skeletal remains at the site with the help of aerial imagery.

ICMP has since 2001 provided technical forensic assistance to exhume four Kosovo…