Libya's Minister for Missing Persons Discusses ICMP Assistance

Libya's Minister for Missing Persons in ICMP's Identification Coordination Division (ICD) in Tuzla, Bosnia

Libya's Minister for Missing Persons in ICMP's Identification Coordination Division (ICD) in Tuzla, Bosnia

The Libyan Minister for the Affairs of Families of Martyrs and of Missing Persons, Naser Jibril Hamed engaged in a weeklong visit to the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP). The arrival of Minister Naser Jibril Hamed and six members of the Libyan Ministry is a part of an ongoing process of cooperation and consultations on the issue of missing persons between ICMP and the Libyan Government.

According to Libyan authorities thousands of people are reported missing in Libya from the recent conflict, as well as from wars in the 1970’s and 1980’s with Egypt, Uganda and Chad. In addition, 1,272 persons are reported missing from the 1996 massacre at the Abu Salim prison in Tripoli.

“The focal point of the visit and our discussions was to ensure that Libya develops its own sustainable capacity to address this issue. In this regard, ICMP proposed the creation of a Libyan Identification Center,” said Kathryne Bomberger, Director-General of ICMP. “The creation of the Libyan Identification Center would provide the first, important step in enabling Libya to develop a sustainable process to work on the issue of missing persons.”

“The Center would allow Libyan authorities to coordinate the domestic process, as well as international assistance. It would also allow for the development of a DNA laboratory system, starting with a facility to collect and store biological samples for DNA identity testing and culminating in the creation of a high throughput DNA laboratory. In addition, the Center would serve as a training and education center allowing for long-term training in forensic anthropology, archeology, pathology, DNA identity testing, scene of crime management, use of ICMP’s Forensic Science Database Management System (fDMS), as well as a center for educating the families of the missing regarding their rights and the missing persons process, including the forensic process. The LIC could also act as a focal point for outreach campaigns, meetings and other events,” Ms. Bomberger added.

“Libya is today faced with a huge problem, and that is to find, identify and return to the families the mortal remains of their missing relatives. We believe that ICMP’s proposal for a Libyan Identification Center is a good one, which we would like to pursue,” said Minister Naser Jibril Hamed during his visit. “We are very impressed with ICMP’s work and with the success that Bosnia and Herzegovina has had in accounting for its missing persons, which has provided a very good model for us,” he added.

During his visit the Libyan minister met with ICMP experts from different fields relevant to the search and identification process, including forensic archeologists, anthropologists, IT specialists and geneticists.

Minister Naser Jibril Hamed also had a chance to discuss Bosnia’s experience regarding the missing persons issue with the BiH Minister of Human Rights Damir Ljubic, Ombudsperson for BiH Jasminka Dzumhur, Minister of Security Sadik Ahmetovic, as well as members of the Board of Directors of the Missing Persons Institute (MPI) and other relevant individuals. The delegation also spoke with families of missing persons in Bosnia and heard their personal stories.

ICMP seeks to secure the co-operation of governments and other authorities in locating and identifying persons missing as a result of armed conflicts, other hostilities or violations of human rights and to assist them in doing so. ICMP pioneered the use of DNA technology to identify large numbers of missing persons. Today ICMP has helped scientifically identify 18,000 persons and its database houses 150,000 genetic samples. ICMP maintains the highest throughput capability for DNA-based identifications in the world and as such it has become a center for global assistance, not only in cases of human rights violations, but also in disaster situations. It has also developed a unique software platform called the fDMS to manage the complex data, which it makes available to governments.