Iraqi Archaeologists Complete ICMP Training Course

3 December 2007: A group of three experts from the Iraqi Ministry of Human Rights successfully completed a training course organized by the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The one-month training program in “Site Assessment and Physical Anthropology” was organized as part of ICMP’s cooperation with the Government of Iraq.

Iraqi Human Rights Ministry staff during the training in ICMP’s Lukavac Reassociation Center, Bosnia and HerzegovinaWe wish to thank the ICMP for its cooperation with the Ministry of Human Rights of the Government of Iraq and for organizing this valuable educational course. The knowledge gathered here will help us work on the hundreds of mass graves created by the former regime of Saddam Hussein and to learn the fate of thousands of missing persons in Iraq. We hope to continue our cooperation with ICMP to address this important human rights issue,” Mr. Al Badri, one of the Iraqi forensic experts from the Ministry said when awarded the ICMP certificate of training completion in Sarajevo today.

“Despite the on-going security concerns, the Iraqi Government has taken steps to address the issue of missing persons. These include issuing a decree in February 2005 to create a National Centre for Missing and Disappeared Persons, drafting a Law on Missing Persons and a Law on Protection of Mass Graves. The Law on Mass Graves has been approved by the National Assembly, said Kathryne Bomberger, ICMP Director General, at the awarding ceremony. “These are important measures that reflect the medium to long-term challenges with regard to missing persons. The current training for the Ministry staff seeks to support the Law on Protection of Mass Graves by providing staff members with the ability to conduct site assessments and to properly record mass grave sites,” she added.

The number of missing persons in Iraq ranges from a quarter of a million to over a million, according to different public sources in Iraq and includes persons missing as a consequence of human rights violations and other atrocities committed during the regime of Saddam Hussein, as well as years of armed conflict,

ICMP has been able to provide limited assistance to the Iraqi Government through the Ministry for Human Rights since 2004 to address this problem. This assistance has included the formulation of policy initiatives to address the needs of the families of the missing and proposals on how to locate, recover and identify the missing, while at the same time building the institutional and legal capacity necessary to house this process. In addition, ICMP has provided training for staff members of the Baghdad Medico-Legal Institute and continues to provide training for staff members of the Ministry for Human Rights and has hosted exchange visits of family association members, as well as visits by the Minster for Human Rights and the staff of the Office of the Prime Minister to ICMP facilities.

This is the third training program ICMP has organized for Iraqi technical experts in the fields of forensic archaeology, anthropology and database management at its facilities in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

ICMP provides assistance to the governments of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Republic of Croatia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Serbia and Montenegro. ICMP also assisted Thailand and the U.S. State of Louisiana in identifying victims of the tsunami and Katrina disasters. ICMP provides assistance to the United Nations Assistance Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK).

This program is a continuation of a set of training courses that have been funded by the US State Department’s HumanIraqi Human Rights Ministry staff receive certificates of training completion in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina Rights program for Iraq. In addition to the United States the work of ICMP is also supported by the Governments of Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Switzerland, Greece, Germany, the Holy See, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the European Union. The C.S. Mott Foundation provides funding to ICMP for the “Paths to Reconciliation” project.