ICMP and INTERPOL Convene Expert Meeting On DNA Analysis and Missing Migrants

The Hague 21 November 2019 – The International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) and the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) have jointly organized the second meeting of DNA experts on DNA analysis of missing migrants and unidentified human remains. The meeting was held today at ICMP Headquarters in The Hague, The Netherlands.

ICMP Director of Policy and Cooperation Andreas Kleiser and INTERPOL DNA Unit Coordinator Susan Hitchin opened the meeting with an overview of key issues related to identifying missing migrants. ICMP Director of Science and Technology Thomas Parsons and ICMP Missing Migrants Program Manager Alessandra La Vaccara presented ICMP’s work in this field.

Tina Hu from INTERPOL’s Vulnerable Communities sub-directorate, and INTERPOL DNA Consultant Andrea Fischer spoke about Project Flyway and its DNA component. Project Flyway was launched in 2017 to combat migrant smuggling, human trafficking, and crimes against children, focusing on North Africa. The meeting examined how experts participating in the Project Flyway can exchange information on DNA analysis of missing migrants and unidentified human remains more effectively. Today’s meeting was also  an opportunity for Project Flyway countries and Joint Process countries to engage in a regional DNA-focused discussion in order to further efforts aimed at the identification of missing and deceased migrants in the Mediterranean.

Europol Liaison Officer at INTERPOL’s People Smuggling Unit Laura Clark presented an overview of steps being taken to connect DNA activities with efforts to address organized migrant smuggling.

National rules and requirements for data collection and data exchange for missing migrants and unidentified human remains were among key issues discussed at the meeting, which was attended by DNA experts from Algeria, Cyprus, France, Italy, Libya, Malta, the Netherlands, Morocco, Spain and Tunisia.

On 11 June 2018, at the initiative of ICMP, representatives of Mediterranean states met in Rome to launch a Joint Process to enhance domestic capabilities and cooperation among these states including improving the utility of available data and enhancing forensic and other technical capabilities. Cyprus, Greece, Italy and Malta are taking part in the Joint Process, and the participation of other European states, as well as countries of origin is being sought.

ICMP is a treaty-based intergovernmental organization with Headquarters in The Hague. 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.