The Policy Coordination Group Launches an Ethical Charter On Data Collection and Documentation of Syria’s Missing  

The Hague, 30 August 2021 – The Policy Coordination Group (PCG) for Syria’s Missing and Disappeared Persons, with the support of the Syria/MENA Program of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP), published an Ethical Charter on the standards and codes of conduct to be followed during data collection and documentation of missing persons in a virtual event today.

The Ethical Charter prioritizes the rights of victims and advances 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. It also establishes a set of principles to guide data collection and documentation and support best practices. Some of these principles are already enshrined in international instruments, while others reflect lessons learned from more than a decade of data collection and documentation in the Syrian context.

The Ethical Charter was adopted by the Policy Coordination Group (PCG), a Syrian-led initiative on the missing and disappeared on 13 July 2021. It was published at a virtual event today marking the International Day of the Disappeared.

“Today, as the world observes the International Day of the Disappeared, it is essential to highlight the urgent need for a comprehensive and coordinated response to the issue of missing persons from the conflict in Syria,’ ICMP Director-General Kathryne Bomberger said. ‘This includes building effective, law-based mechanisms predicated on upholding the rights of families to truth, justice and reparations.”

More than 100,000 persons are believed to be missing as a result of the conflict in Syria. In addition, the country has a legacy of missing and disappeared persons cases linked to human rights abuses and other causes prior to the conflict, and Syrians who have fled the fighting have gone missing along migratory routes.

Today’s event continues a policy process summarized in ICMP’s October 2020 report on accounting for the missing from the Syria conflict. As part of this broad effort, ICMP is facilitating the work of the  Policy Coordination Group for Syria’s Missing and Disappeared Persons, which is developing recommendations for a policy framework for a future missing person process in Syria.

ICMP’s assistance to the Syria Policy Coordination Group is funded by the European Union through the support the EU provides to ICMP’s Syria/MENA program.

About PCG

The PCG is a Syrian-led policy process on the missing and disappeared in and from Syria facilitated by the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP). It is composed of 27 Syrian family associations, civil society organizations, and legal and human rights defenders as well as international advisors.

About ICMP

ICMP is a treaty-based intergovernmental organization with Headquarters in The Hague, the Netherlands. Its mandate is to secure the cooperation of governments and others in locating missing persons from conflict, human rights abuses, disasters, organized crime, irregular migration and other causes and to assist them in doing so. It is the only international organization tasked exclusively to work on the issue of missing persons.

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