24 March 2012: Following an invitation from the Libyan Government, the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) has deployed a team of experts to discuss assisting Libya in addressing the issue of persons missing from the recent conflict, as well as the four decades of Muammar Gaddafi’s rule. ICMP will also provide immediate assistance in resolving specific cases.
According to Libyan authorities tens of thousands people are reported missing in Libya from the recent conflict, as well as from wars in the 1970’s and 1980’s with Egypt, Uganda and Chad and the 1, 272 persons reported missing from the 1996 massacre at the Abu Salim prison in Tripoli.
In effort to help Libya develop a comprehensive process to address this issue, the International Commission on Missing Persons has provided Libya with the following set of recommendations:
• Strengthen domestic rule of law institutions that would enable Libya to comply with human rights obligations on the missing persons issue in a non-discriminatory, transparent and accountable manner. This would include the Ministry for the Families of the Martyrs and the Missing, as well as the prosecutor’s office and other authorities involved in addressing the missing persons issue;
• Create domestic legislation to holistically address the issue of missing persons and the specific needs of victims. Such legislation could include the provision of rights for the families of the missing, including the right to know the fate and circumstances of the disappearance. In addition the law could provide for the protection of mass or clandestine graves and personal information including genetic information and it could provide for compensation;
• Create central records and databases on missing persons that would allow Libyan authorities to provide accurate and reliable information regarding the number of missing persons and the circumstances of their disappearance. Such records would also form the basis for future compensation for victims;
• Fully engage victims groups, families of the missing and civil society in every element of the process including the development of legislation, the strengthening of state institutions, decisions regarding memorials and most critically, in a DNA-based process of identifications.
• Develop an integrated scientific process of locating, recovering and identifying missing persons, incorporating a DNA-based process of identifications that would incorporate best practice principles in locating, recovering, storing and scientifically identifying missing persons through the use of forensic archaeology, anthropology, pathology, proper scene of crime management, bioinformatics and DNA identity testing.
ICMP will also donate its Forensic Data Management System (fDMS) to Libya, which is a specialized software solution built internally by the ICMP to support all forensic activities conducted by the ICMP. The primary objective of the fDMS is to provide for the collection, storage and analysis of many kinds of data needed by forensic experts to track the process of locating, recovering and identifying missing persons.
ICMP has 15 years of experience in assisting governments locate, recover and identify missing persons following armed conflict and violations of human rights. It is the only organization in the world tasked exclusively with working on the issue of missing persons.
The ICMP has helped governments build rule of law institutions to search for missing persons and to create legislation to allow families of the missing to assert their rights. As a fully operational organization, ICMP has helped governments excavate over 3,000 mass grave sites and has pioneered the use of DNA identity testing to make over 30,000 DNA matches, which were used to identify over 18,000 persons globally. This effort required obtaining and managing over 150,000 biological profiles.
ICMP also works with Civil Society organizations, particularly families of the missing, so that they can become active participates in the process.