22 August 2011: Head of ICMP’s Iraq Programs, Mr. Johnathan McCaskill, met in Baghdad on Wednesday with members of the Committee for Martyrs and Political Prisoners of the Parliament of Iraq, including the head of this Committee Sheikh Mohammad Al-Hendawi. Mr. McCaskill briefed the Committee of ICMP’s activities both in Iraq and internationally.
Mr. McCaskill informed the Committee members of ICMP’s DNA project in Iraq, which is a multi-year program designed to introduce the use of high-throughput DNA identity testing as a tool in identifying victims of enforced disappearance and other violations of international human rights laws. Mr. McCaskill also updated the Committee members on ICMP’s work directly with family associations and NGOs in Iraq. In addition, Mr. McCaskill informed the Committee members of ICMP’s assistance to the Iraqi Government in locating mass graves, their recovery and in the identification of victims at a level that is scientific and consistent with international standards and best practices.
The Committee members thanked ICMP for establishing offices in Iraq, because its work will help in effectively dealing with mass graves and missing persons issue in Iraq and this will be vitally important for reconciliation and reinforcing the rule of law. The Committee members requested from ICMP to organize a visit for the Committee members to ICMP’s international headquarters in Bosnia and Herzegovina, where they would have a chance to see ICMP activities in the Balkans, meet with government institutions responsible for locating, recovering and identifying missing persons, and providing services to victims, their families and communities.
“I think it is important to meet with Iraqi parliamentarians because they represent the voice of the Iraqi people,” said Johnathan McCaskill, the ICMP’s Head of Iraq Programs. “The fact that the committee has taken such an intense interest in the ICMP’s work shows that they are taking these issues seriously and that they see the ICMP as a valuable partner in helping the government develop effective institutions and programs to deal with them”.
The Committee for Martyrs and Political Prisoners works with several Iraqi agencies and institutions on issues related to crimes committed by the former regime and its victims including the Martyrs Foundation and the Prisoners Foundation. The Committee also works on issues related to victims of terrorism and their families. Committee activities include advocating for financial support for victims and their families and advocating for changes to legislation.
The number of missing persons in Iraq ranges from 250,000 to over one 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.”