Erbil, 25 November 2022 – Accounting for missing persons and victims of enforced disappearance “is an integral part of the effort to end violence against women,” Kathryne Bomberger, the Director-General of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP), said today during a panel discussion facilitated by ICMP in Erbil. The discussion, held on the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, brought together women survivors of missing persons, women-led households, women in leadership positions with the Iraqi authorities and women civil society activists.
“The gender aspect of disappearances must not be ignored,” Ms Bomberger said, and she highlighted challenges faced by women survivors and women-led households in Iraq when they attempt to claim their rights and access basic services.
“The state is obliged to conduct effective investigations into all missing persons – and the authorities in Iraq have made progress in fulfilling their obligations under national and international law,” Ms Bomberger said. “However, it is women who routinely bear the brunt of delayed or incomplete investigations. As the majority of Iraq’s missing persons are men, women survivors are left to address the legal, social, and political challenges that follow when the family’s main breadwinner goes missing. They face difficulties in obtaining documents to claim their entitlements. They face obstacles related to social integration, and they face difficulties in participating in the actual process of accounting for missing persons.”
Ms. Bomberger said ensuring that the rights of women survivors to justice, truth, and reparations are secured “is essential to the broader process of ensuring peace and stability,” and she said ICMP would continue to work with all stakeholders to develop a sustainable and effective missing persons process, including helping the authorities to establish a central mechanism to account for all missing persons and a Central Record of Missing Persons.
Participants at today’s meeting discussed challenges facing women-led households and potential avenues for the active participation of civil society and families of the missing in the Central Mechanism and in the overall process of accounting for missing persons.
“Unification of efforts to search for missing persons can be achieved more effectively if there is coordination between civil society organizations and government institutions, This can mitigate the suffering of families of missing” said Ms. Wansa Shamoon, from Coalition for Just Reparations.
Today’s event, organized with support from the US State Department, the German Federal Foreign Office, and the Foreign Ministry of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, is part of ICMP’s long-term strategy to secure the rights of survivors to truth, justice and compensation.
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.