Archive for ??????, 2004



Iraqi Technical Delegation Completes Visit to ICMP

??????, ?????? 26th, 2004

Members of a technical delegation of Iraqi missing persons officials concluded a week-long fact-finding visit to the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) in Bosnia-Herzegovina Friday, saying they would like to apply ICMP methods to the missing persons problem in Iraq.The five-person delegation included the Iraqi Minister for Human Rights of Iraq, His Excellency Dr. Bakhtiar Amin, who departed Sarajevo on Monday, accompanied by the head of the Baghdad Medico-Legal Institute. The three remaining missing persons officials, who work in the Iraqi Human Rights Ministry, left Sarajevo this afternoon.

Iraqi officials estimate there are between 300,000 and one million missing persons in Iraq, believed to be buried in mass graves around the country. The goal of this fact-finding visit was for members of the delegation to learn about the assistance ICMP can offer in addressing the missing persons issue in Iraq. ICMP gave detailed introductions to its work on assisting in the formulation of government policies on missing persons issues; the technical aspects of mass grave excavation and exhumation; the scientific approach taken by ICMP in the identification of recovered human remains; the collection of centralized data and data management systems; and advocacy for and assistance in organization and empowerment of family members of the missing.

Saying they were grateful to ICMP for its willingness to provide support for resolving the missing persons issues in Iraq, members of the delegation said they were particularly impressed by the ICMP DNA-based method of identification of human remains on a mass scale. With such large numbers of missing persons, they said this method was the most efficient they had seen, and that they would like to apply it in Iraq.

Any methods would have to be adapted for factors such as the Iraqi climate and geological environment, as well as the time-frame; whereas ICMP’s work in Bosnia-Herzegovina covers those who went missing during the 1992-1995 conflict, some of the mass graves in Iraq date back to 1979.

The Iraqi Government is in the process of establishing and training a team of missing persons experts, and members of the delegation said they appreciated ICMP’s efforts to empower local professionals to take over responsibility for successfully identifying missing persons, especially using DNA technology.

ICMP Chief of Staff Kathryne Bomberger said the visit had been particularly successful. “They are now in a much better position to consider their options regarding what would be most applicable in Iraq. We are ready to offer any assistance they may need,” she said.

Iraqi Human Rights Minister Studies ICMP Work on Missing Persons

???????, ?????? 22nd, 2004

At the end of a four-day visit with the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) in Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Minister for Human Rights of Iraq, His Excellency Dr. Bakhtiar Amin, said Monday that the experiences of ICMP and of Bosnia-Herzegovina could help in finding ways to address the missing persons issue in Iraq.The Iraqi Government estimates there are more than one million missing persons in Iraq, buried in mass graves across the country. But with few facilities or specialists, the Government recognizes it is ill-equipped to deal with the missing persons issue.

ICMP, an international organization funded through grants, donations and contributions from participating governments, was initially established to address the missing persons issue in the former Yugoslavia. It has focused exclusively on missing persons since its foundation in 1996 and has developed extensive expertise on the issue. Dr. Amin said he was greatly impressed by the work of ICMP and that his visit had been an opportunity to learn from ICMP and the Bosnian experience. “We hope to continue cooperating with ICMP,” he said. “We see them as an important partner for us; their experience and expertise in the missing persons issue will be very useful in Iraq.”

During his visit, Dr. Amin and his delegation of technical experts visited ICMP facilities in Sarajevo and Tuzla, learning about support that ICMP can give in the formulation of government policy on missing persons, on scientific support that can facilitate the recovery and identification of human remains, and on assistance given by ICMP to empower family members of the missing.

Dr. Amin was particularly moved by his visit with ICMP to the Potocari Memorial, where victims of the 1995 fall of Srebrenica are buried. There he met with family members of the missing who explained to him their experiences. He said he admired their efforts to push the process of identification and memorialization of the missing. “Their courage and efforts had a great impact on the progress that has been made,” he said. “It is important for us to work with the families in Iraq and to encourage them to organize and create their own associations, as they have done here.”

The Minister was extremely moved by the stories of the family members. “The pain and suffering of the families of the disappeared are very similar. They have common tears, no matter where they come from,” he said.

Iraqi Human Rights Minister to Visit ICMP

??????, ?????? 19th, 2004

The Minister for Human Rights of Iraq, His Excellency Dr. Bakhtiar Amin, arrived Friday afternoon in Sarajevo for an official visit with the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP). During the visit, Dr. Amin and his delegation of technical experts will tour ICMP facilities and have an opportunity to learn about ICMP methodology, including assistance in the formulation of government policies on missing persons issues, scientific approaches to identification of bodies and assistance and support for family members of the missing.During his four-day visit, the Minister will meet with ICMP staff to discuss options on how to address the missing persons issue. He will meet with ICMP forensic anthropologists to learn about exhumation and examination procedures, and visit the ICMP DNA laboratory in Sarajevo, where DNA profiles are generated from bone samples taken from the remains of missing persons and from blood samples given by family members of missing persons. At the ICMP Identification Coordination Division in Tuzla in Eastern Bosnia Herzegovina, he will see the process where bone sample DNA profiles are compared to DNA profiles from blood samples from family members.

The Minister will also visit the Potocari Memorial, which commemorates the victims of the 1995 fall of Srebrenica, and where victims who have so far been identified are buried. In Srebrenica, he will also meet with associations of family members of the missing, many of whom work with ICMP.

The Iraqi authorities are at the beginning of the process of addressing the missing persons issue in Iraq, where there are thought to be between 300,000 and one million missing persons, most of whom are believed to be buried in mass graves.

ICMP Chief of Staff Kathryne Bomberger said she was pleased to host Dr. Amin and his technical delegation. “It will be an opportunity for them to learn about a unique methodology in response to the missing persons issue that has proved highly successful in finding comprehensive solutions,” she said. “In cooperation with the Iraqi authorities, we can help them to find an approach that will be appropriate for Iraq,” she added.

Earlier this month, ICMP began working with the Kurdish Regional Government in northern Iraq, donating use of its highly specialized Forensic Data Management System that will make the process of exhumation, examination and identification more efficient.