ICMP Welcomes Key Step Forward In Colombia’s Missing Persons Process

The Hague, 22 February 2018: The International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) joins other organizations and governments working to support the Comprehensive System of Truth, Justice, Reparation and Non-Repetition (SIVJRNR) in Colombia in welcoming the formal swearing-in on Wednesday of Luz Marina Monzón as the first Director of the Search Unit for Missing Persons.

“Almost 85,900 missing persons cases have to be resolved in Colombia,” ICMP Director-General Kathryne Bomberger said today. “The Search Unit has been established to address this issue in an effective way, as required by the Final Peace Agreement, and its success will have a significant bearing on the success of the peace process as a whole. Luz Marina Monzón’s swearing-in is a key step forward, and ICMP will work closely with the new Director to support the work of the Unit.”

The issue of missing persons was a central part of the negotiations between the Government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). The Search Unit is part of the SIVJRNR, which was established under the Peace Agreement and which also includes the Special Criminal Jurisdiction and the Truth Commission. Luz Marina Monzón, a long-time advocate of the rights of the families of the missing, was selected to lead the Search Unit in September 2017.

Under the Peace Agreement, ICMP is mandated to support the Search Unit. In December 2017 ICMP submitted its first report to the Colombian authorities, including detailed recommendations on how to enhance the overall effectiveness of the missing persons process.

ICMP first became engaged in Colombia in 2007 following a request by the Prosecutor’s Office and in light of the needs arising from the implementation of the Peace and Justice Law. In 2008, it presented the Government with a comprehensive assessment of needs (ICMP’s 2008 Report on Colombia). On this basis, from 2008 to 2010, ICMP supported the work of the Colombian National Search Commission (CNB) assisting in the unification of processes and protocols, developing an inter-institutional search protocol, and creating a guide to unify the institutional approaches on informed consent. ICMP also assisted in the compilation and publication of the first official public report in Colombia on the issue of forced disappearance, which was issued by the CNB (19 March 2009), and in the creation of the first Colombian public policy document on forced disappearance (CONPES 3590 issued in July 2009). ICMP helped to draft Law 1408 on Homage to Victims of Forced Disappearance (April 2010), which established a unified database for a DNA-based process of identifying the missing. ICMP has also provided extensive training in DNA methods to Colombian institutions including the National Institute of Legal Medicine and Forensic Sciences.

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.