Survivors of Albania’s communist camps share stories in ICMP-supported documentary film

By Saša Kulukčija

Tirana, 17 May 2021 – Gjet Kadel was just seven years old when he and his family were imprisoned in Albania’s Tepelena camp. Decades later, he is still looking for the remains of family members who perished in the camp. His story is highlighted in The Weight of Mud, a documentary created by journalist Lulieta Progni of the Institute for Political Studies with support from the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP).

The documentary, created as part of a project financed by the European Union (EU) in Albania and the Government of Switzerland and implemented by ICMP and Authority for Information on Former State Security Documents (AIFSSD), was featured on ABC Albania and is now available on YouTube.

The film combines survivors’ stories with research and State Archive documents. About 600 people, 300 of them children, were killed or died due to inhuman conditions while imprisoned in Tepelena…

On Iraq’s Mass Grave Day, ICMP calls for the protection and investigation of mass graves

Baghdad, 16 May 2021 – To commemorate Mass Graves Day in Iraq, the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) in collaboration with Bournemouth University presented a recently published protocol on mass grave investigation and protection to Iraqi authorities involved in efforts to account for missing persons.

In 2007, the Iraqi Council of Ministers designated 16 May as the National Day of Mass Graves to draw attention to the fate of individuals who were killed and disappeared during decades of conflict and human rights abuse and buried in mass graves. Iraqi authorities estimate that between 250.000 and 1 million persons have gone missing in the country.

To commemorate Mass Graves Day, ICMP presented to Iraqi stakeholders Arabic- and Kurdish-language copies of The Bournemouth Protocol on Mass Grave Protection and Investigation, a joint product of ICMP and Bournemouth University that defines legal and practical standards of the protection and investigation of mass…

Germany accedes to ICMP Treaty

The Hague, 3 May 2021 – In a move that will deepen collaboration to benefit missing persons and their families around the world, Germany recently acceded to the Agreement on the Status and Functions of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP), becoming the 2014 Treaty’s ninth State Party.

Germany joins Afghanistan, Chile, Cyprus, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Serbia, Sweden and the United Kingdom as States Parties to the Treaty, which has also been signed by Belgium and El Salvador.  The Treaty established ICMP as an intergovernmental organization  headquartered in The Hague tasked with ensuring the cooperation of governments and others in locating missing persons cases from conflict, human rights abuses, disasters, organized crime, migration and other involuntary causes.

Germany’s Ambassador to the Netherlands, Dirk Brengelmann, on 30 April formally deposited Germany’s instrument of accession to the depositary, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands. The German government on 17…

ICMP statement 33 years after Kurds suffered in Anfal campaign: victims and their families deserve justice

Baghdad, 14 April 2021 – To commemorate the 33rd anniversary of the Anfal campaign that killed and disappeared large numbers of Kurds, the International Commission on Missing Persons reiterated that the rights of victims and their families to truth, justice and reparations must be secured.

The Baath regime’s Anfal campaign involved military operations, attacks with chemical weapons, mass disappearances and other atrocities.

“ICMP pays its respects to all families of victims of the Anfal campaign, many of whom are still waiting for answers – as are families of victims of other atrocities committed by the Baath regime,” said Alexander Hug, head of ICMP in Iraq. “We are committed to supporting Iraqi authorities and families of victims in efforts to put in place a sustainable process to locate, recover and identify missing persons, and to secure their families’ rights, based on an impartial rule-of-law based approach.”

ICMP assists the Martyrs Foundation and Ministry…

Syrian Civil Society representatives, families of the missing discuss way forward on detainees during ICMP-facilitated discussion

The Hague, 12 April 2021 – Syrian civil society representatives and other key actors called for the immediate release of all who are missing following arbitrary detentions in Syria during a recent roundtable discussion hosted by the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP).

The 8 April 2021 discussion addressed the harrowing circumstances of detention in Syria and the continued political challenges surrounding efforts to account for detainees held primarily by the Syrian government, but also by other parties to the conflict. Participants underlined the need to address the immediate need to know the location of detainees and other missing persons and noted the importance of accountability and justice for both the victims and their families.

“The families of the detained and missing are at a breaking point,” said ICMP Director-General Kathryne Bomberger. “The measures in place to address detention are not working. We need to explore avenues for new ways to address…

New ICMP report recommends actions to help Libya account for missing persons

9 April 2021 – In an assessment report launched this week during a meeting of the Berlin Process’ International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights Working Group, the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) examines Libya’s efforts to account for missing persons and recommends action to establish a sustainable and effective missing persons process.

Between 10,000 and 20,000 persons are estimated to be missing in Libya. Prior to 2011, forced disappearances were linked to the regime’s violations of human rights, or were a consequence of wars in which the Libyan regime was involved. Later, widespread violations of human rights law and international humanitarian law, including forced disappearances, resulted in persons going missing. Additionally, an unknown number of persons have gone missing while crossing or departing Libya as part of migratory journeys.

The assessment, conducted by ICMP from October 2020 to January 2021 with the support of the Government of the Netherlands…

Evidence related to missing persons a focus in second ICMP course for first responders in Northeast Syria

The Hague, 25 March 2021 – The importance of collecting and preserving evidence related to missing persons was a key topic in a second training course for first responders who locate persons missing from the ongoing conflict in Syria, held this week by the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP).

The 22 first responders based in northeast Syria enhanced their capacity to collect forensic evidence and safeguard mass graves and sites of forensic interest during the online four-day course, which ended today. The course covered procedures for DNA sampling of remains, collecting and preserving evidence from mass graves and other measures to support future accountability mechanisms. The course also covered methods to collect, manage and secure data related to the site contents.

Estimates cited by the United Nations in 2021 indicate that over 100,000 persons are missing as a result of the current conflict in Syria. In addition, the country has…

Iraqi civil society organizations expand knowledge about missing person reporting process in ICMP course

Baghdad, 18 March 2021 – Thirty representatives from as many Iraqi civil society organizations strengthened their ability to assist families of missing persons in the missing persons process, including helping them to report disappearances and apply for compensation, during a two-week International Commission on Missing Person course that ended today.

Sessions during the course, held online due to the Covid-19 pandemic, detailed what families of missing persons in Iraq need to do to report their missing relatives, and what they need to do to apply for compensation under the Iraqi law on Compensating People Affected by War Operations, Military Mistakes, and Terrorist Actions (Law No. 20). The participants represent organizations with extensive experience of assisting families of missing persons located across Iraq.

The Director General of Iraq’s Directorate on Victims of Military Operations, Military Mistakes and Terrorist Operations, Tariq Jehan, and Nawsherwan Sharif Saeed, General Director of Administration and Finance of…

Prosecutor in Mexican State of Nuevo Leon establishes DNA laboratory, unit for missing persons identification with equipment donated by ICMP

A forensic scientist at Office of the Prosecutor in the Mexican state of Nuevo Leon prepares a sample for DNA extraction and analysis using laboratory equipment donated by ICMP in March 2021. Photo: CADHAC

Monterrey, Mexico, 16 March 2021 – The Office of the Prosecutor in the Mexican state of Nuevo Leon (FGJNL) this month received a donation of laboratory equipment and software that strengthens its capacities to make DNA-based identifications of challenging missing persons cases. The donation by the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) is part of a USAID-funded project that helps the state enhance its capacity to account for missing persons.

Scientists at the Nuevo Leon state prosecutor’s laboratory will use the equipment to establish a dedicated missing persons DNA workflow that includes a new laboratory that will use advanced methods to extract DNA from challenging post mortem samples related to missing persons cases. A new unit will be established to analyse forensic data and to support the matching of victims’ DNA with that shared by the families of the missing.

“State- of-the-art DNA identification of the missing is a highly specialized…

Ten years on, over 100,000 persons are missing from the Syrian conflict and numbers continue to rise – ICMP calls for coordinated plan to find the missing and address this key human rights issue

An image from an advocacy film created by Syria Bright Future that is part of the exhibit. Photo: Syria Bright Future

The Hague, 15 March 2021 – A staggering number of persons are missing due to the Syrian conflict, and more people are disappearing as the conflict continues unabated. Ten years after the war erupted, the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) reiterated that immediate action is needed to find missing persons and secure the human rights of families of the missing.

With the families of Syria’s missing persons scattered around the globe – many live as refugees in neighbouring countries, in Europe or elsewhere, while others remain in war-torn Syria – the issue of Syria’s missing is a global challenge that demands international attention and action.

2021 UN report estimates that 100,000 persons are missing due to the conflict. In addition, the country has a legacy of missing and disappeared persons cases linked to human rights abuses and other causes that occurred prior to the decade-long conflict, and Syrians who have…