Iraqi Human Rights Minister to Visit ICMP

19 November 2004: The Minister for Human Rights of Iraq, His Excellency Dr. Bakhtiar Amin, arrived Friday afternoon in Sarajevo for an official visit with the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP). During the visit, Dr. Amin and his delegation of technical experts will tour ICMP facilities and have an opportunity to learn about ICMP methodology, including assistance in the formulation of government policies on missing persons issues, scientific approaches to identification of bodies and assistance and support for family members of the missing.During his four-day visit, the Minister will meet with ICMP staff to discuss options on how to address the missing persons issue. He will meet with ICMP forensic anthropologists to learn about exhumation and examination procedures, and visit the ICMP DNA laboratory in Sarajevo, where DNA profiles are generated from bone samples taken from the remains of missing persons and from blood samples given by family members of missing persons. At the ICMP Identification Coordination Division in Tuzla in Eastern Bosnia Herzegovina, he will see the process where bone sample DNA profiles are compared to DNA profiles from blood samples from family members.

The Minister will also visit the Potocari Memorial, which commemorates the victims of the 1995 fall of Srebrenica, and where victims who have so far been identified are buried. In Srebrenica, he will also meet with associations of family members of the missing, many of whom work with ICMP.

The Iraqi authorities are at the beginning of the process of addressing the missing persons issue in Iraq, where there are thought to be between 300,000 and one million missing persons, most of whom are believed to be buried in mass graves.

ICMP Chief of Staff Kathryne Bomberger said she was pleased to host Dr. Amin and his technical delegation. “It will be an opportunity for them to learn about a unique methodology in response to the missing persons issue that has proved highly successful in finding comprehensive solutions,” she said. “In cooperation with the Iraqi authorities, we can help them to find an approach that will be appropriate for Iraq,” she added.

Earlier this month, ICMP began working with the Kurdish Regional Government in northern Iraq, donating use of its highly specialized Forensic Data Management System that will make the process of exhumation, examination and identification more efficient.