Iraqi Scientists Strengthen Skills in Using DNA to Identify Missing Persons at ICMP Training

The Hague, 28 February 2020: Four Iraqi scientists from Iraq’s Medico-Legal Directorate (MLD) strengthened their skills in DNA identification methods during training sessions held this month at the headquarters of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP).

The training, held 17 to 28 February, was part of ICMP support to Iraqi authorities in developing capacity to handle missing persons cases.

Mr. Ahmed Qasim, Head of MLD’s Extraction Unit, and Mr. Omer Al-Barghooth, Extraction Unit Analyst focused on ICMP’s extraction protocol during a session held the first week, while Ms. Noor Salih, Head of MLD’s Quantification and Amplification Unit, and Ms. Haneen Rakhoo, Head of Capillary Electrophoresis Unit, focused on ICMP’s pre- and post-amplification procedures during a session held the second week.

Iraqi Ambassador Hisham Al-Alawi and staff from the Iraqi Embassy in the Netherlands took part in ceremonies that closed the training sessions.

The training, which included practical sessions at the ICMP’s DNA laboratory, focused on topics such as ICMP’s DNA-led identification system, the reception and handling of post-mortem samples, quality management, the ICMP’s use of massive parallel sequencing methods and DNA quantification results analysis.

“I was impressed by the organization and efficiency of work flow at the ICMP’s DNA lab. I learnt a lot during this week’s training from handling samples to documentation and quality management,” said Ms. Salih.

Ms. Rakhoo added: “It was very useful for us to see how ICMP’s lab operate and how all lab staff adhere to the same work standards and procedures. We are happy to bring back such knowledge and implement similar practices when we go back to the MLD in Iraq.”

Iraq has hundreds of thousands of missing persons cases, including those missing from the Saddam Hussein regime. ICMP has worked with the authorities in Iraq since 2003, helping survivors to access their rights and helping the authorities to account for all missing persons, regardless of their sectarian or national background, or the period of time in which they disappeared.

ICMP’s Wim Kok Centre for Excellence and Learning organized the training as part of its efforts to support learning and development that contributes to fulfilling the ICMP’s mandate.

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 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.