Mechanics of Migration

Bangladeshi migrant workers who have crossed the Egyptian border wait patiently for a repatriation flight home, relieved to have escaped the fighting in Libya.
Picture © Stabilisation Unit/DFID
Bangladeshi migrant workers who have crossed the Egyptian border wait patiently for a repatriation flight home, relieved to have escaped the fighting in Libya. Picture © Stabilisation Unit/DFID

Rachele Sbrissa examines enforced disappearance, people trafficking and missing persons issues that are an integral element in the Mediterranean migration crisis

Migration and forced migration have become issues of growing international attention and concern. A majority of people move voluntarily, but in 2013, out of 232 million estimated migrants, Behind the statistics, the plight of migrants and refugees constitutes a serious humanitarian emergency, which has recently been brought into the spotlight by rising immigration flows affecting Europe, notably through the main transit routes of the Mediterranean and the Balkans. Despite huge sums of money being spent on collecting migration and border control data, relatively little is known about the migrants who die during their journey and/or…

Migration and Missing Persons

Children in the Atmah Refugee Camp on the boarders with Turkey, Christmas Day 2012. Credit: Basma
Children in the Atmah Refugee Camp on the boarders with Turkey, Christmas Day 2012. Credit: Basma

On 18 June, two days before World Refugee Day, UNHCR issued its annual Global Trends report, this year entitled “World at War”.

Speaking about the report, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres said: “We have reached a moment of truth. World stability is falling apart leaving a wake of displacement on an unprecedented scale. Global powers have become either passive observers or distant players in the conflicts driving so many innocent civilians from their homes.”

According to UNHCR, the number of forcibly displaced people at the end of 2014 rose to a staggering 59.5 million, compared to 51.2 million at the end of 2013, and 37.5 million a decade ago. Guterres pointed out that more people fled their homes in 2014 than at any time since UNHCR records began.

Worldwide there were 19.5 million refugees (up from 16.7 million in 2013), 38.2 million people displaced inside their own countries (up from…

Brac Conference on Genetics

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Zoran Budimilija reports on the proceedings of the Ninth Conference of the International Society of Applied Biological Sciences (ISABS) in Forensic, Anthropologic and Medical Genetics and Mayo Clinic Lectures in Translational Medicine, held from 22 to 26 June in Bol, on the island of Brač in Croatia (www.isabs.hr).

The conference was the latest in a series of biennial events organized by the International Society for Applied Biological Sciences, which is dedicated to the promotion of applied molecular biology, in the presence of more than 500 participants from all over the world. This year’s program focused on Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) in forensics, DNA investigative intelligence, and advances in forensic DNA routine, as well as anthropology genetics concerning ancient and modern human genome history, and the human genetic history of the continents.

The work of ICMP was presented at the Conference by Dr. Thomas Parsons, Director of ICMP’s Forensic Science Division…

Sustaining the Process of Accounting for Missing Persons in Bosnia and Herzegovina

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At the end of June, ICMP arranged media briefings in Banja Luka and Sarajevo to explain the latest developments in implementing recommendations from the Stocktaking Report published by ICMP in December last year. The Report is the most comprehensive analysis yet written of a country’s effort to account for missing persons after armed conflict.

It reviews

  • Wartime efforts to account for the missing, including the work of the various commissions established to exchange prisoners and remains of the deceased;
  • Post-war efforts to identify bodies, using traditional methods;
  • The domestic legal and institutional framework, including the enactment of the BiH Law on Missing Persons in October 2004 and the establishment of the BiH Missing Persons Institute (MPI) in August 2005; and
  • The scientific process, which witnessed an exponential rise in identifications after 2001 with the introduction of ICMP’s DNA-led Identification Data Management System.

The Report provides detailed information on the location and identification of the missing…

ICMP Joins Forces With Missing Persons Organization in Mexico

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From 8 to 11 June, ICMP Director-General Kathryne Bomberger and Deputy Director of Forensic Sciences Adi Rizvic were in Monterrey, the capital of the state of Nuevo Leon in northern Mexico, to take part in a series of activities with the NGO, Citizens in Support for Human Rights (CADHAC).

CADHAC was founded in 1993 to help people who have been wrongfully imprisoned, and to offer assistance to families of the disappeared. It has developed an innovative operating method that brings together families of victims, civil society and the authorities. Over the last 20 years, CADHAC has been able to change the way the issue of the missing is viewed in Nuevo Leon – by the police, prosecutors, judicial authorities and the general public – and as a result more systematic and effective ways of investigating disappearances and prosecuting those responsible have been introduced.

Since 2014, ICMP and CADHAC have been preparing…

Infographic Provides Latest Facts and Figures on Srebrenica Genocide

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Key facts and figures related to the Srebrenica Genocide of July 1995 have been published on ICMP’s website. A Srebrenica infographic provides details about work done during the last 20 years to account for the estimated 8,000 missing, including numbers of victims who have been identified by different means, and statistics on Srebrenica-related war-crimes cases.

The Srebrenica infographic can be found at:   http://bit.ly/1JzSmFy

 

Preparing a Missing Persons Strategy for Libya

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Libyan lawyers and other stakeholders meeting at a seminar in Istanbul on 11-12 May called on the parties preparing a national dialogue in Libya to make a formal commitment not only to work towards disclosing the fate of missing persons but to conduct investigations and also to safeguard the rights of families.

Legal experts, civil society activists and government representatives were participating in a seminar on “criminal procedure and the use of evidence in court-led processes on mass graves and missing persons in Libya”, organized by ICMP to help stakeholders develop a legal framework through which the missing persons issue can be addressed when the operating environment in the country stabilizes.

Fadeel Mohammed Atayeb Lameen, Chairman of the Libyan National Dialogue Preparatory Commission, welcomed the seminar’s recommendation highlighting the authorities’ obligations in the field of missing persons. “I think this will be useful to all those who are engaged in the…

Review of Unidentified Remains in BiH Mortuaries

IMG_2495-photo Jasmin Agovic

At the end of May, a team of experts working under the jurisdiction of the Central Bosnia Canton Prosecutor’s Office began the process of case review and anthropological analysis of unidentified remains associated with Travnik mortuary. Relevant authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina at every level are conducting a thorough review of all 12 mortuaries in the country to establish why a large number of bone samples sent for testing do not match the genetic profiles of nearly 9,000 complete sets of reference samples provided by more than 27,000 family members with missing relatives.

At the end of 2012 the Missing Persons Institute determined that there were 3,279 cases of human remains in mortuaries across Bosnia and Herzegovina that had the status of NN, that is, they were unidentified. Since June 2013 the NN Working Group has reviewed nearly 1,300 NN cases in the mortuaries at Sutina,…

Memorialization in Mexico

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Danielle House examines creative and effective methods of memorialization in Mexico that address a variety of live issues related to enforced disappearance

On 26 September 2014, students from the Ayotzinapa teacher training college in Guerrero, Southern Mexico, were attacked by municipal police. Three students and three bystanders were killed, 25 were wounded, and a further 43 were forced into police trucks. The 43, however, were not taken to a police station and there was no record of their arrest; they disappeared.

The Procuraduría General de la República (PGR, Mexico’s Office of the Attorney General) has since declared the ‘historic truth’ of the event: the Mayor of the local town, Iguala, ordered the police to attack the students, to prevent them from disrupting an event his wife was hosting that evening. The police handed the students over to local cartel members, who then killed the students and disposed of their bodies.

A Million Reasons not to Make Peace in Iraq

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When troops loyal to the government in Baghdad retook Tikrit in April, they discovered hundreds of bodies buried in mass graves near the River Tigris; hundreds more victims of Islamic State are believed to have been dumped in the river. This episode is just one piece in a blood-soaked mosaic: half a century of dictatorship and conflict have resulted in reports that there are up to one million missing persons in Iraq.

Speakers at conferences organized by the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) in Baghdad and Erbil at the end of April and the beginning of May stressed the need to gather precise statistics as a preliminary step in tackling this issue, but one participant from an Iraqi women’s group summed up the nature and scale of the problem when she described missing persons as “the biggest and the oldest crisis facing our nation”.

ICMP has been addressing the issue…