A Cornerstone of Peacebuilding – Addressing the Issue of Missing and Disappeared Persons

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The cross-cutting global challenge of accounting for missing and disappeared persons can be addressed effectively through a coherent international policy, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein told at briefing for senior diplomats at the United Nations in New York today.

The issue of missing persons and enforced disappearances is linked to international peace and security, he said. “Appropriate legislation and adequate frameworks are needed for processes to account for the missing. Mechanisms to clarify the fate of missing persons need to be transparent and depoliticised, and the needs of the missing should be at the center of any action, including families of the missing.”

The briefing on accounting for missing persons from conflict, human rights abuses, disasters, organized crime, migration and other involuntary causes was organized by the International Commission on Missing Persons and hosted by the United Kingdom Mission…

Czech Republic Donation to ICMP

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The Czech Republic has donated 15,000 Euros to support ICMP’s Western Balkans program. The donation was confirmed by Czech Ambassador Jakub Skalnik during a meeting this morning with the Head of ICMP’s Western Balkans program, Matthew Holliday.

“This contribution will have a practical impact on our work, as activities within ICMP’s Western Balkans program, including civil society engagement, forensic operations and DNA testing and matching, are scheduled through 2019 and securing funding for these activities is essential,” Matthew Holliday said.

Ambassador Skalnik described the donation as “an expression of the Czech Republic’s continued commitment to the work of accounting for the missing from the conflict in the Western Balkans and the solidarity of the people of the Czech Republic with the people of the region.”

ICMP Newsletter: Missing Persons Issues in 2015

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ICMP’s January newsletter reported on an initiative designed to promote dialogue on the missing persons process in the Western Balkans and the role of families in this process. Activities included innovative workshops that explored ways of articulating, sharing and coming to terms with key issues. Objectives included building empathy between young people and older family members through personal narratives; helping participants to understand how the missing persons issue affects different generations in different ways; encouraging older family members to identify positive forces that can help take the missing persons process forward; and fostering dialogue between young people and older family members.

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The February issue examined gender roles in conflict, starting out with the observation that in order to achieve lasting peace, it is imperative that women become active participants in decision-making. The experiences of women in dealing with war – and…

Signatories to the Agreement on ICMP’s Status and Functions

 

Ambassador María Teresa Infante of the Republic of Chile, Ambassador Elpidoforos Economou of the Republic of Cyprus, and ICMP Director-General Kathryne Bomberger at the signing of the Agreement on the Status and Functions of the International Commission on Missing Persons, The Hague, 14 December 2005.

One year after the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Belgium, Sweden and Luxembourg signed the Agreement on the Status and Functions of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP), three more countries – Cyprus, Chile and Serbia – signed the Treaty in December 2015. El Salvador had become a signatory in November.

The Agreement recognizes ICMP as an international organization tasked with assisting countries in their efforts to address missing persons cases from conflict, human rights abuses, disasters, organized crime, migration and other causes.

By becoming signatories, countries declare their commitment to dealing with the issue of missing persons, and this…

More remains can be found; More identifications can be made

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By Kathryne Bomberger,

Two events in the first half of December helped to put the issue of missing persons back at the top of the policy agenda in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The first was a call by families of the missing, through the Regional Coordination of associations of families of Missing Persons, meeting in Sarajevo, for the authorities to maintain their support for the process of reviewing unidentified remains stored in Bosnia and Herzegovina’s mortuaries.

Everyone present at the meeting, including 16 of the most active BIH associations of families of the missing, prosecutors from all levels in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the Missing Persons Institute (MPI) Board of Directors, agreed that the issue of possible misidentifications made prior to the introduction of DNA testing must be addressed through mass collection of reference samples. The next step, which also had unanimous support, is to develop…

Peru’s Efforts To Deal with Legacy of Conflict

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By Kevin Sullivan

When the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID) visited Peru in the middle of 2015, WEIGD Chief Ariel Dulitzky noted that – at the current rate of location and identification of missing persons – it would take more than 100 years to account for all of the individuals still missing from the civil conflict of the 1980s and 1990s. Of 15,000 victims of enforced disappearance, around 1,300 have so far been accounted for.

According to a number of studies, in the war between Government security forces and left wing rebels (principally Shining Path and the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement) the armed forces were responsible for most of the illegal detentions and killings, with disappearances being used as a matter of policy at the height of the insurgency. However, only a handful of military officers have…

Enforced Disappearances in Egypt

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Bojana Djokanovic considers the rising number of reported enforced disappearances in Egypt

Following the events that accompanied the resignation of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak at the beginning of 2011, and the military overthrow of  President Mohamed Morsi in July 2013, there have been continuous allegations by activists inside and outside Egypt that the regime of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is responsible for a rising tide of enforced disappearances and human rights violations – to the extent that the government would appear to be using enforced disappearance as an instrument of policy.

During the 2011 revolution, 1,200 persons were reported missing. In January 2013 a committee set up by President Morsi to investigate the 2011 events presented an 800-page report detailing multiple incidents including cases where citizens were detained by the armed forces and subsequently buried in unmarked graves.

Human Rights Watch reported in…

Republic of Serbia Signs ICMP Treaty

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The Republic of Serbia has become the ninth country to sign the Agreement on the Status and Functions of the International Commission on Missing Persons.

ICMP has been helping the authorities in Serbia to account for missing persons since 1996. In 2001 ICMP signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the former Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, and after this ICMP assisted in the excavation and identification of persons missing from the Kosovo conflict. ICMP opened an office and established a DNA laboratory in Belgrade in 2002. The laboratory was handed over to the Serbian authorities in 2006. In 2014, ICMP renewed its agreement with the Government of Serbia Commission on Missing Persons through an exchange of letters relating specifically to the provision of assistance in locating, recovering and identifying missing persons related to the conflict in Kosovo,…

Chile Signs ICMP Treaty

Ambassador María Teresa Infante of the Republic of Chile, Ambassador Elpidoforos Economou of the Republic of Cyprus, and ICMP Director-General Kathryne Bomberger at the signing of the Agreement on the Status and Functions of the International Commission on Missing Persons, The Hague, 14 December 2005.

Chile today became the seventh country to sign the Agreement on the Status and Functions of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP).

In December 2014 the Agreement was signed by the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Sweden, Belgium and Luxembourg; last month it was signed by El Salvador, and this morning in addition to Chile it was signed by the Republic of Cyprus. The Agreement recognizes ICMP as an international organization tasked with assisting countries in their efforts to address missing persons cases from conflict, human rights abuses, disasters, organized crime, migration and other causes. The Agreement does not…

More remains can be found; More identifications can be made

The review of BiH mortuaries being carried out under the jurisdiction of the relevant Prosecutors’ Offices with the full cooperation of the police, pathologists and the authorities, the Missing Persons Institute and ICMP demonstrates the determined efforts to investigate missing persons cases , 20 years after the conflict, ICMP Director-General Kathryne Bomberger wrote in a column that appeared on Sunday (13 December) in the daily newspaper Dnevni Avaz.

“It also highlights the very important fact that more than two decades after the war, with more than 70 percent of the missing accounted for, the effort to account for those who are still missing remains absolutely essential,” Ms Bomberger added.

For the last two years, the NN (no name) Working Group has been systematically reviewing cases of unidentified remains in BiH mortuaries, moving from one mortuary to the next. It has so far reviewed cases in Sutina, Nevesinje, Gorazde, Tavnik, Visoko and…