28 September 2011: The International Commission Missing Persons held a seminar and workshop on enforced disappearances entitled, “The Right to Know” on 26 and 27 of September 2011. The ICMP held the event in Baghdad and in cooperation with the Iraqi Ministry of Human Rights.
The event brought together representatives of several NGOs from central and southern Iraq and officials from the Council of Ministers, the Human Rights Ministry, the Martyrs Foundation and members of parliament and sought to raise awareness of missing persons issues, promote cooperation and coordination among members of the NGO community and to foster dialogue between the government and civil society. The ICMP invited Dr. Gabriella Citroni from the University of Milan to present on international legislation related to missing persons and the crime of enforced disappearance and to give the participants an overview of recent developments in the UN Human Rights Commission, its Working Group on Enforced Disappearances and in other countries.
“The ‘right to know’ is about more than simply discovering the fate of a missing relative,” said ICMP’s Head of Iraq Programs Johnathan McCaskill. “It also means that the government has an obligation to actively search for missing persons and to continuously notify the families of its progress.”
Mr. Dheyaa Kareem, Head of the Human Rights Ministry’s Mass Graves Department gave a summary of the Iraqi Law on Protection of Mass Graves and summarized the MHR’s achievements in the mass grave excavations since the ratification of the Law in 2005. Mr. Nasir Sha’lan and Mrs. Bushra al-Moussawi from the Martyrs Foundation gave an overview of the Martyrs Foundation’s work, the process of registering a deceased relative as a martyr and the support the Foundation gives to martyrs’ families. Finally, the representatives of the 16 NGOs that attended the event introduced their organizations and the projects they were working on.
During the workshop on the second day, participants had the opportunity to ask Dr. Gabriella Citroni and a group of panelists questions related to international legislation on enforced disappearances and its ramifications on national legislation in Iraq. The participants also had a chance to engage in direct dialogue with government officials on issues related to their work and on ways to improve transparency, cooperation, and the effectiveness of the government’s work in victim communities. At the end of the conference, the ICMP, Dr. Citroni, participating government officials and the NGO representatives compiled a list of recommendations that will be presented to the relevant ministries and the Council of Ministers in the coming months.
ICMP has been cooperating with Iraqi authorities, namely with the Ministry of Human Rights, the Ministry of Health, the Martyrs Foundation, the Ministry of Martyrs and Anfal Affairs and the Kurdish Regional Government’s Ministry of Health since 2005.
As part of its mandate, ICMP seeks 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 is a global organization that contributes to rule of law activities and supports the development of networks of civil society organizations which advocate for truth, justice, and the rights of family members of missing persons.