ICMP Meets with Iraq Minister for Human Rights to Discuss Future of Missing Persons Process

10 February 2011: The Minister of Human Rights, H.E. Mohammed S. Al-Sudaney and the Director of the International Commission on Missing Persons, Ms. Kathryne Bomberger, met in Geneva, Switzerland, to discuss enhancing their cooperation in locating, recovering and identifying persons missing as a result of the regime of Saddam Hussein and decades of external and internal conflicts.

“It is estimated that between 250,000 to 1 million persons are missing in Iraq,” said Minster Al-Sudaney. “It is important for the future of Iraq that we engage in a sustainable effort to address this issue. Millions of Iraqis has been affected by decades of abuse and we must work on their behalf to find their missing relatives,” he added. “The ICMP has had tremendous success in helping other governments in the world address this issue and we look forward to enhancing our cooperation with them.”“We welcome the engagement of the new Iraqi Minister for Human Rights in this issue and look forward to continuing our support in the provision of training in the excavation of mass grave, the anthropological examination of mortal remains and the development of an Iraq specific forensic database, which will assist resolving missing persons cases,” said the ICMP Director General. “We also look forward to taking our cooperation to a new level and attempting to apply DNA identity testing to accurately identify victims of atrocities.”

The new Iraqi Human Rights Minister was invited to Geneva by the Mayor of Geneva, Mr. Remy Pagani, not only to facilitate a meeting with the ICMP, but to attend the premiere of the movie Son of Babylon, by Iraqi film maker, Mohamed al-Daradji. The film chronicles the post 2003 quest of a woman searching for her son missing from the regime of Saddam Hussein. The film highlights the difficulty faced by Iraqis in finding their missing loved ones amongst the hundreds of mass graves scattered across Iraq.

The ICMP and the Mayor of Geneva are also working together to promote the Iraq Missing Persons Campaign, which seeks to ensure global support for the efforts to find the missing in Iraq.

ICMP’s mandate is to secure the co-operation of governments and other authorities in locating and identifying persons missing as a result of armed conflicts, other hostilities or violations of human rights and to assist them in doing so. ICMP pioneered the use of DNA technology to identify large numbers of missing persons. Today ICMP has helped to scientifically identify 18,000 missing persons and its database houses 150,000 genetic samples relative to missing persons in over 20 countries.

ICMP also contributes to transitional justice activities, provides legislative support and helps in the development of networks of civil society organizations which advocate for truth, justice, and for the rights of family members of missing persons.