Baghdad, 12 April 2019: The International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) is providing technical expertise and resources to support the Iraqi National Team at the mass grave excavation that resumed today in Kocho village near the town of Sinjar in Nineveh Province, northern Iraq.
ICMP forensic experts are working alongside personnel from the Mass Graves Department of the Iraqi Martyrs’ Foundation, the Medico-Legal Directorate of the Ministry of Health, the Kurdistan Region’s Ministry of Martyrs and Anfal Affairs and the United Nations Investigative Team to promote accountability for crimes committed by Da’esh. This effort is being coordinated by the General Secretariat of the Council of Ministers. This activity was supported by the European Union Foreign Policy Instrument, the US Department of State and Canada.
In addition to field support, ICMP has provided the National Team with training in relation to locating and documenting mass graves. It is also supporting anthropologists from the National Team working in the Medico-Legal Department of the Ministry of Health in Baghdad in the process of examining human remains exhumed from the mass grave in Kocho last month. ICMP is also working with its partners from the Government of Iraq to reach out to families of the missing in order to ensure their active participation in the missing persons process.
Since January 2019, the National Team with the support of ICMP has secured and protected dozens of suspected mass grave sites in Sinjar District, related to atrocities committed by Da’esh. Protection efforts are geared towards ensuring the proper safeguarding of evidence and sites of forensic interest ahead of excavations.
The Iraqi Government estimates that between 250,000 to one million people are missing as a consequence of decades of conflict and human rights abuses. Since 2005, ICMP has helped Iraq to develop long-term strategies to account for the missing regardless of ethnic, religious or national origin and to secure the rights of families regardless of the circumstances of disappearance. It has provided extensive training in the recovery of mass graves and the collection of reference samples, and together with the relevant institutions, it has worked on the excavation of mass graves.
ICMP is a treaty-based international organization with Headquarters in The Hague, the Netherlands. Its mandate is to secure the cooperation of governments and others in locating and identifying 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.