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: https://youtu.be/ROt7z-RQ-bc

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….

Iraq: Seven years since Camp Speicher Massacre

Baghdad, 12 June 2021 – Seven years ago, Da’esh fighters executed an estimated 1,700 Iraqi air force recruits at Camp Speicher near Tikrit, 140 kilometres northwest of Baghdad. Speaking today, the Head of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) program in Iraq, Alexander Hug, said it was “essential to continue the efforts of the National Team, the Mass Graves Directorate (MGD) and the Medico-Legal Directorate of the Ministry of Health (MLD), together with ICMP to account for those who are still missing as a result of the massacre and to bring those who were responsible to justice.”

Since 2016 ICMP has provided operational support to Iraqi experts in addressing ISIS crimes, by safeguarding and excavating gravesites in Sinjar and mass graves in Tikrit, including the graves at Camp Speicher. This has included providing training, guidance, and onsite operational support for the multi-agency work at Camp Speicher. ICMP supported three phases of fieldwork by the National Team in 2016 and 2017, during which…

ICMP DG on Mladic verdict: Truth and justice prevail for families of the missing

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, 8 June 2021 – The verdict handed down today by the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (UNMICT) in the case of Ratko Mladić, following legal proceedings that have lasted for more than nine years, is an important affirmation of the rule of law, ICMP Director-General Kathryne Bomberger said.

The UNMICT upheld the conviction of Mladić for the genocide in the area of Srebrenica in 1995, war crimes and crimes against humanity.  Mladić, who was the Bosnian Serb commander during the conflict, has been sentenced to life imprisonment.

“Those who killed unarmed civilians and those who facilitated the conditions for these crimes, wrongly believed that they could erase their crimes through hiding the mortal remains of their victims, said Bomberger.

ICMP’s work, in particular scientific evidence establishing the identity of victims from the 1990s conflicts, contributed to an incontestable narrative of genocide and other war crimes. The evidence has contributed…

Act in their Absence: New ICMP campaign encourages Syrians to report missing and disappeared persons

The Hague, 31 May 2021 – A new International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) campaign titled Act in their Absence  encourages Syrians to report missing persons to the ICMP’s Online Inquiry Center (OIC) as part of efforts to help find Syria’s missing. Families located anywhere in the world can use the OIC, and Europe-based Syrian families with missing relatives will this summer be invited to provide genetic reference samples to assist in locating missing persons and reuniting families.

The project activities are conducted by ICMP, with the support of the German Federal Foreign Office and the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs.

Since the beginning of the Syrian conflict, more than 100,000 persons have gone missing, according to a 2021 UN report. Syrians and others have gone missing due to atrocities committed as part of the ongoing fighting, human rights violations, including summary executions, enforced disappearances, kidnapping, arbitrary detention…