Rome, 11 June 2018: Representatives of Cyprus, Greece, Italy, and Malta met at the Villa Massimo in Rome this morning at the invitation of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP). Participants at the meeting asserted their intention to develop a joint process aimed at enhancing cooperation among European and other States to account for migrants who have gone missing or who have died in the Mediterranean region.
“Locating and accounting for missing migrants requires effective administrative and investigatory cooperation among States, including coordinating existing capacities, in particular to improve the utility of available data and to source technical capabilities,” participants said in a statement issued at the conclusion of the meeting. “It is also necessary to coordinate efforts more efficiently with international and other organizations, and secure the assistance of specialized intergovernmental organizations.”
In the statement, they stressed that this process will be open to other states, including other European states and countries of migrant origin. The immediate objectives will include assessing the scope and extent of investigatory capacities and proposing strategies to redress possible shortcomings.
Speaking at the opening of today’s meeting, ICMP Commissioner Wim Kok noted that in view of the complexity and enormity of the challenge “no one country can face this issue on its own”. He said it was critical “that States come together to harmonize their efforts and share responsibilities and that they reach out to countries of migrant origin.” Mr Kok said ICMP is prepared to work with countries in the region in order to help them set in place an effective system that will enable them to share information and coordinate their efforts to address the issue of missing migrants.
Prefect Mario Papa, Italy’s Extraordinary Commissioner for Missing Persons, noted that “since the shipwrecks near Lampedusa in 2013, the office of the Commissioner has been supporting activities to identify victims,” and that greater cooperation between government institutions and specialist international organizations “is clearly desirable”.
“Today’s meeting will pave the way towards a Joint Process,” ICMP Chair Thomas Miller said. “This is a historic step. By exploring ways of coordinating their respective efforts, we believe that countries in the region can significantly enhance the effectiveness of these efforts.”
The statement by participants notes that ICMP can provide a secretariat and other support for the Joint Process as required.
ICMP is a treaty-based international organization with headquarters in The Hague. Its mandate is to secure the cooperation of governments and others in locating and identifying 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.