Effective Missing Persons Process in Iraq Depends on All Stakeholders Working Together   

Baghdad, 13 April 2019: The Deputy Head of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) program in Iraq, Fawaz Abdulabbas Abdulameer, noted today that ICMP’s experience in different parts of the world shows conclusively that an effective missing persons process depends on families and officials working closely together. 

Families must know their rights, to the truth, to justice and to reparations, and they must be supported when they exercise these rights,” Mr Abdulabbas Abdulameer said, adding that “Government officials who are responsible for accounting for the missing must have the legislative and institutional support that they need in order to carry out their duties. 

Mr Abdulabbas Abdulameer was speaking at a seminar between representatives of the Iraqi Government and Yezidi families of the missing at a meeting in the village of Sinuni, near Sinjar, in northern Iraq. ICMP co-hosted today’s meeting with the Iraqi General Secretariat of the Council of Ministers, whose representative expressed his support for the active participation of families of the missing. The directors of the Mass Graves Directorate of the Iraqi Martyrs’ Foundation and the Medico-Legal Directorate of the Ministry of Health delivered a presentation to family and community members to promote better understanding of the process of locating and identifying missing persons from their communities.  

Excavations are on-going in Kocho village near Sinjar to locate and identify victims of Da’esh atrocities. ICMP forensic experts are working alongside personnel from the Mass Graves Department of the Iraqi Martyrs’ Foundation, the Medico-Legal Directorate of the Ministry of Health, the Kurdistan Region’s Ministry of Martyrs and Anfal Affairs and the United Nations Investigative Team to promote accountability for crimes committed by Da’esh (UNITAD). 

Through our partnership with the National Team, UNITAD and with the families of the missing, we believe we can make a valuable contribution to an effective missing persons process,” Mr Abdulabbas Abdulameer said. “This will make it possible to help the key stakeholders in this process, the families of the missing, including those who are represented here today. The process may be slow – it takes time to do this work properly and to ensure that identifications, when they are made, are conclusive and correct. All of the evidence must be collected, analysed and stored in such a way that it can be used in court when perpetrators are brought to justiceBut the outcome of this long process will contribute to justice and stability in Iraq. ICMP will support the process, step-by-step, working with the families and with the Iraqi National Team.  

The family seminar held today in Sinuni was supported by the European Union Foreign Policy Instrument and the US Department of State.