The Netherlands Supports ICMP’s Work to Help Iraq Address Legacy of Largescale Missing Persons

The Hague, 22 November 2019: The Kingdom of The Netherlands has awarded funding to the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) in the amount of 3 million Euro to continue its program to help Iraq create a sustainable process to find missing persons and to secure the rights of surviving families of the missing.

Iraq has a legacy of hundreds of thousands of missing persons from more than four decades of conflict and instability, including large numbers of missing from the regime of Saddam Hussein and Da’esh crimes.

“The goal is to continue to support the efforts of the Iraqi government and others to create a sustainable missing persons process that is based on the rule of law and that secures the rights of all families of the missing in an impartial manner,” the Head of ICMP’s Iraq Program, Rasa Ostrauskaite, said today. She said that, with Dutch help, ICMP will seek to foster cohesion and stability in communities throughout the country “through the implementation of an inclusive, non-discriminatory approach and by supporting institutional structures that are capable of conducting effective investigations.”

His Excellency the Ambassador of The Netherlands to Iraq, Eric Strating, said: “As the host country of the ICMP, we feel a special responsibility for the important work of the Commission. Estimates of the number of missing persons in Iraq range from 250,000 to 1 million. Accountability is on top of the Dutch diplomatic agenda. The ICMP is supporting Iraq in developing long-term strategies to account for missing persons regardless of ethnicity, religion or nationality. We hope that a Memorandum of Understanding between ICMP and the Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs will soon be finalized so that ICMP can step up the support it has already been providing to Iraq for more than a decade.”

Under the Dutch-funded project, ICMP will endeavor to help the Iraqi authorities enhance their responsiveness to the concerns of families of the missing. It will also seek to strengthen the relationship between the authorities, civil society and families of the missing by improving communication among stakeholders and by establishing mechanisms and procedures through which families can provide information about their missing relatives, including genetic data for the purpose of making accurate identifications. The project will also support efforts to establish a National Center on Missing Persons.

“Addressing the issue of missing persons can help to unite communities,” said Rasa Ostrauskaite. “It can also bring citizens and government closer together in the pursuit of a common cause. Through this project, families of the missing will become active participants. This dynamic will be further developed through the involvement of CSOs to support and advocate on behalf of the families. A particular effort will be made to ensure the participation of women, minorities and other marginalized groups.”

The project will contribute to bringing perpetrators to account, among other things by helping to safeguard mass grave sites, and recover human remains and associated evidence while establishing a robust chain of custody that will ensure that evidence vital for future prosecutions is secured.