The Rights of Yazidi Survivors of Atrocities to Justice Must be Secured

Baghdad, 3 August 2023 Speaking on the ninth anniversary of crimes committed by Da’esh against the Yazidi population in Iraq, the Director-General of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP), Kathryne Bomberger, said ICMP will continue working with the families of victims and with the responsible authorities in Iraq to secure truth, justice, and reparations for survivors.

On 3 August 2014, Da’esh invaded Sinjar, killing thousands of people and abducting thousands more of the Yazidi community members, many of those who were abducted are still missing.

“The impact of these heinous crimes continues to reverberate, leaving countless families searching for answers about the fate of their missing loved ones,” Ms. Bomberger said. “On this somber anniversary, we remember the victims of the genocide, and we salute the courage and resilience of the Yazidi families who are searching for their loved ones. ICMP is committed to supporting the effort to account…

VAST and ICMP Enhance Partnership to Improve Vietnam’s Capability for Identification of Remains from War  

Hanoi, Vietnam 26 July 2023 – During the week, the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) and the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology (VAST) have hosted a series of events aimed at enhancing efforts to account for the large number of missing persons and unidentified human remains from the Vietnam-American War. The project is funded and generously supported by US Agency for International Development.

Senior representatives from ICMP participating in this week’s events include Ms. Thảo Griffiths, Board Member of the ICMP, Ms. Kathryne Bomberger, Director-General of ICMP, Dr. Thomas Parsons, Member of the ICMP Expert Panel and an expert on forensic genetics, and two senior ICMP scientists from the ICMP DNA Laboratory in The Hague, specializing in Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) technologies.

On Monday, 24 July, during a workshop organized by VAST, together with representatives from the Center for DNA Identification (CDI), the Institute for Biotechnology (IBT), the Department…

ICMP Expreses Condolences on the Death of Mujo Hadziomerovic

The Hague, 15 July 2023: On behalf of the Board of Commissioners and the staff of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP), Director-General Kathryne Bomberger has expressed her condolences to the Missing Persons Institute of Bosnia and Herzegovina (MPI) following the death of the member of Board of Directors (BoD), Mujo Hadziomerovic today.

“Mr. Hadziomerovic, was committed to the pursuit of truth and justice for all families of the missing, regardless of their ethnic, religious and national background, or any other factor and was one of the key partners in the process of accounting for the missing in Bosnia and Herzegovina”, Ms Bomberger said today.

Mujo Hadžiomerović was a MPI BoD member since 2021.


Srebrenica: The Unremitting Necessity of Justice

Srebrenica, 11 July 2023: The remains of 30 victims of the Srebrenica Genocide were buried at the Potocari Memorial Cemetery near Srebrenica today.

More than 7,000 victims of the Genocide have been identified as a result of the DNA-led identification process pioneered by the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP). Each year, the remains of more victims are buried. The process of identification and reassembly of skeletal remains can involve recovery from multiple clandestine gravesites and may continue for a period of years.

Attending today’s ceremony at Potocari, together with staff from ICMP’s Western Balkans Program, Director-General Kathryne Bomberger said the thousands of white headstones that line the hillside opposite the factory where men and boys were separated from their families in July 1995, testify to the “unremitting necessity of justice.”

Ms Bomberger stressed that “each of the people buried in this cemetery has been named,” and the facts of the Genocide…

Srebrenica: Truth, Justice and Reparations

Sarajevo, 10 July 2023: The DNA-led process developed in Bosnia and Herzegovina to identify victims of the Srebrenica Genocide and other crimes has contributed to a fundamental change in the way that countries address issues of truth and justice in war, the Director-General of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP), Kathryne Bomberger, said today.

Ms Bomberger was speaking in Potocari at an international conference on Srebrenica organized by Srebrenica Memorial Center and World Jewish Congress. She noted that in the years immediately after the war in former Yugoslavia “some argued that documenting the crime and identifying the victims would undermine efforts to restore peace. During those years, when the process of identification was slow, Genocide denial was rife.”

However, when ICMP launched a radically new process in 2001 based on comparing DNA from unidentified human remains with DNA taken from living relatives of missing persons, the pace of identifications quickened…

For the Families of Srebrenica the Wait Never Ends

The Hague, 7 July 2023: In Srebrenica on 11 July, 30 victims of the 1995 Genocide will be buried. Their bodies have been exhumed from clandestine graves and identified. At least six of those to be buried this year were teenagers when they were murdered.

More than 7,000 of the 8,000 victims of the Genocide have been identified, the vast majority through DNA testing. The DNA-led process has been indispensable because the perpetrators of the Srebrenica Genocide tried to hide the evidence of their crime by systematically digging up mass graves in the weeks and months after the murders and distributing the bodies of victims in secondary and tertiary clandestine graves across eastern Bosnia.

On average, seven or eight separate DNA match reports are issued for each identified victim. This is because the bones of individual victims have been found in multiple mass graves.

In many cases, relatives of the victims choose…

Mediterranean States Can Access Forensic Capacity And Expertise to Locate and Identify Missing Migrants

Photo credit: Hellenic Coast Guard/Reuters

The Hague, 5 July 2023: Following the sinking of a fishing boat packed with migrants off the Greek coast on 14 June, the authorities in Greece and other countries have an obligation under international and domestic law to take effective steps to locate and identify victims and in due course repatriate their remains. More than 600 people may have drowned in the sinking of the Adriana. As many as one hundred children are among the missing.

Since 2018, the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) has been working with the governments of Cyprus, Greece, Italy and Malta to develop a Joint Process to account for missing migrants. Following the 14 June shipwreck, ICMP immediately offered to have blood-collection kits shipped to Athens with a view to taking reference samples from relatives of those who had gone missing. These samples can be compared with DNA taken from unidentified…

Cooperation with the Independent Institution On Missing Persons in Syria is Essential to its Success

The Hague, 30 June 2023: The resolution adopted by the 77th session of the UN General Assembly this week establishing the Independent Institution on Missing Persons in the Syrian Arab Republic is a “testament to the relentless efforts of Syrian Civil Society and families of the missing,” the Director-General of the International Commission on Missing Persons, Kathryne Bomberger, said today. She added, “it is crucial that governments and international organizations get behind the Independent Institution and help it to succeed.”

The Independent Institution is to have “the full and meaningful participation and representation of victims, survivors and the families of missing persons”, according to the Resolution, and is to build “on existing capacities and survivor-informed best practices.”

Bomberger said the debate in the General Assembly had shown that countries understand the importance of this issue. “The 83 states that voted in favor of the Resolution did so because they know that…

Annual Report Highlights ICMP Programs and Plans

The Hague, 30 June 2023 – On the occasion of its 27th anniversary, the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) today published its Annual Report for 2022. The report, which can be accessed on the ICMP website, provides detailed information about ICMP’s programs and plans, as well as a comprehensive survey of missing persons issues around the world.

Highlights from ICMP’s operations in 2022 include new programs in Ukraine, Vietnam, Libya, the Caucasus, and Albania, with developments also noted in ICMP’s operations in Iraq, Syria-MENA, the Western Balkans, and Albania. During the year, work began on refurbishing ICMP’s Human Identification laboratory in The Hague, which serves as a strategic resource for governments around the world, with a standing capacity to process DNA samples at high volume. And two new Board members, Barbara Haering from Switzerland, and Thao Griffiths from Vietnam, brought the number of ICMP Commissioners up to eleven: five…

Libyan Experts Visit  ICMP to Advance Work On Locating Missing Migrants & Other Missing Persons

The Hague, 28 June 2023: Experts from Libyan institutions have completed a two-day visit to the Headquarters of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) in The Hague. Representatives included experts from the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Ministry of Justice (Technical Permanent Committee on Mass Graves and Missing Migrants). During the study visit, the experts were briefed on measures to enhance their work in locating missing migrants and other missing persons and investigating disappearances in line with the rule of law.

Participants were able to see at first hand ICMP’s Integrated Data Management System (iDMS), which has helped to account for tens of thousands of people globally. They also attended presentations on methodologies for collecting and analyzing missing persons data, and during a tour of ICMP’s Human Identification laboratory they were briefed on the latest DNA identification techniques.

“This visit enhanced…