A high-level delegation of 19 experts working on the issue of enforced disappearances in Colombia visited the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) at its headquarters in Bosnia and Herzegovina from 20th to 25th November, 2008.
The Colombian delegation received in-depth presentations of ICMP experiences and expertise, in strengthening institutional capacity, creating viable legislation and enhancing the technical means to locate, recover and identify missing persons. In addition, ICMP stressed the importance of including civil society in all aspects of the process and ensuring that family associations of the missing in particular are fully educated and informed about the process.
“I would like to thank ICMP for this important visit, which allowed representatives from Colombia to visit ICMP’s offices and to observe first-hand the mechanisms developed by ICMP relevant to the process of locating, recovering and identifying missing persons,” stated Luis Gonzalez Leon, Head of the Justice and Peace Unit of the State Prosecutors’ Office. “We were particularly impressed by their use of DNA testing as a first step in the identification of recovered human remains, as well as their laboratory structure and their impressive information database system,” he added.
The delegation consisted of representatives from the Colombian State Prosecutor’s Office, the National Search Commission for Missing Persons, the National Institute of Legal Medicine and Forensic Sciences, the Office of the Vice-President, the various judicial police institutions and representatives of civil society, including the families of the missing.
“The visit also provided a good opportunity to follow-up on the recommendations ICMP made to Colombia in its recently released report, “Colombia’s Response to Enforced Disappearances,” said Kathryne Bomberger, ICMP Director-General. “Colombia is well advanced in addressing the issue of the missing; however, representatives from the various institutions recognize the need to enhance many aspects of the process. This visit was a positive step forward in determining how ICMP can support Colombia in its efforts,” Ms. Bomberger added.
ICMP’s report on Colombia, issued earlier this year, examined Colombia’s efforts to confront the problem of thousands of cases of enforced disappearance through analyzing its work in searching for and identifying victims, including the institutional and procedural methods established for that purpose, the technical processes employed and the work undertaken directly with the victims.
To read the ICMP report, “Colombia’s Response to Enforced Disappearances,” please click here, to read the addendum to the report please click here. To read the report and addendum in Spanish please click here for the report and here for the addendum.