ICMP Online Inquiry CenterWelcome to the ICMP Online Inquiry Center.
OverviewIf families have reported a missing person to the ICMP, the Missing Persons Inquiry will allow them to find information on the status of the case. The Online Inquiry Center is interactive. Families can use it to both obtain and provide information. For government authorities and forensic professionals who have submitted postmortem samples to the ICMP for DNA testing, the Postmortem Sample Inquiry will allow them to track their cases. The Excavation Site Inquiry will allow users to search for general information regarding the status of DNA testing for specific excavation sites.
The ICMP maintains a database of 150,000 genetic profiles obtained from relatives of the missing and government authorities worldwide. The ICMP database consists of over 90,000 blood reference samples obtained from families of the missing and over 50,000 post mortem samples submitted to ICMP from government authorities searching for missing persons. By matching the reference samples obtained from relatives of the missing to post mortem samples submitted to ICMP by government authorities, ICMP is able to assist in identifying persons missing from armed conflict, crimes against humanity, as well as natural disasters. Through the provision of DNA identity testing, ICMP has assisted in closing over 18,000 missing persons cases.
Missing Persons InquiryIf a family has registered a missing person with the ICMP by providing one or more reference samples for DNA testing, the status of the case can be tracked simply by entering the name of the missing person. Access the Missing Persons Inquiry here.
Since different people may have the same or similar names, it is important to enter the name of the missing person exactly, and to include the name of the missing persons’ father, if available, to make the search more specific. It is important to remember that ICMP’s records begin with information reported by family members. If a search unexpectedly fails to produce a result, please check if there may have been an alternate spelling or form of the person’s name that was originally reported to the ICMP.
When a family reference sample is provided to the ICMP, a DNA profile is obtained and this profile is compared to all DNA profiles that the ICMP has obtained from mortal remains of victims, which have been submitted by authorities. In order to find a DNA match, usually multiple family reference samples are needed. Close family member such as parents and children of the missing person provide the most useful samples for DNA matches, so it is both the number and relationship of family members that determines if a match can be found.
The Missing Persons Inquiry will indicate if ICMP has enough family reference samples to be sure of finding a match, or if additional samples should be provided if possible. If more samples are needed, a link on the Missing Persons Inquiry will allow you to provide information on additional family members that ICMP can contact for samples.
Even if enough family reference samples are provided, a DNA match can only be found if ICMP also has a DNA profile from a postmortem sample that has been submitted to the ICMP.
Family members can help in the search for their loved ones by checking to see if ICMP has enough reference samples, and, if not, providing more information for additional samples. Any other update of information is strongly encouraged as well. Please contact ICMP.
If the ICMP has found a match between family DNA profiles and a DNA profile from a human remains sample, a DNA Report is released to the authorized party who submitted the postmortem sample. The ICMP Online Inquiry Center provides contact details for the authority to whom the information was issued.
Important Note: Families should understand that issuing a DNA Report is not the same as an official identification. DNA Reports are intended to be used as part of the identification process, which considers all available information. In addition, sometimes DNA Reports are issued on multiple people because DNA can’t always distinguish between relatives. The most common such case, for example, involves same sex siblings that can’t be distinguished if neither has any children who have provided reference samples. To find the identification status of a case, families should contact the authority listed in the Missing Persons Inquiry result.
Postmortem Sample InquiryThe Postmortem Sample Inquiry is a tool to help authorities track postmortem sample cases that have been sent to the ICMP for DNA testing. These authorities include government institutions tasked with working on missing persons cases and medical -legal personnel, who are authorized to locate, recover and identify missing persons, as well as to legally close missing persons cases. Through agreements with participating governments, this information can also be provided to courts, prosecutors and organizations active in the missing persons issue.
Access the Postmortem Sample Inquiry here.
This tool tracks the following information:
- The date of submission of the post mortem sample to ICMP
- The name of the submitting authority
- The site location and grid coordinates of the origin of the skeletal remains from which the sample was taken
- The status of obtaining a DNA profile from the sample
- The date for a request for a reserve sample, if the sample did not contain enough DNA to produce a profile
- DNA match information, including the name of the individual(s), the date the DNA match report was submitted and the authority to whom the DNA match was submitted
Excavation Site InquiryThe Excavation Site Inquiry tool allows authorized users to see summary information on the results of DNA testing of all mortal remains samples sent to the ICMP from particular sites where mortal remains were recovered.
The recovery of mortal remains from such locations as mass graves, single graves, cemeteries, or natural features such as caves or lake beds is conducted by competent authorities, sometimes with the assistance of ICMP. The individual "cases" or sets of mortal remains recovered may represent complete bodies or skeletons, or, in many instances, only partial components such as are recovered from secondary mass graves where the remains have become fragmented. Different parts of remains of the same individual may even be recovered from different graves or locations. The cases of mortal remains are then examined, and one or several small samples of bone or teeth are removed and submitted to the ICMP for DNA testing. After DNA profiles are obtained from the mortal remains, these profiles are compared to all DNA profiles from family members of the missing. If ICMP has sufficient reference profiles from family members corresponding to the missing person from whom the mortal remains were taken, then a DNA Match will be found and reported to the submitting authorities (see Missing Persons Inquiry, above).
The Excavation Site Inquiry tool provides summary information on DNA testing results from these samples, organized according to the particular site from which the corresponding mortal remains were recovered. The sites are designated by Country, the site name, and the grid coordinates corresponding to the site (when this has been provided to the ICMP). It is important to note that some sites may have been referred to by different names by various authorities or at various times. The possibility of alternate names should be kept in mind when searching for results. In case of questions or difficulty in finding results, feel free to contact the ICMP.
There are a number of possible outcomes of DNA testing of mortal remains samples, with the following listings in the Excavation Site Inquiry Tool:
- "Obtained DNA Profile" means that the DNA test was successful, and that the DNA profile has been compared to ICMP’s family reference database in an attempt to discover a DNA Match.
- "Pending DNA Profile" means that the DNA testing is in progress. Sometimes cases with badly degraded DNA require advanced DNA testing methods and special considerations that require additional time, in an exhaustive attempt to successfully obtain a DNA profile.
- "Failed DNA Extraction" means that there was no surviving DNA in the mortal remains to permit obtaining a DNA profile. If a sample "fails" in this way, ICMP sends a request to the submitter of the sample for a replacement sample, which in many cases allows a profile to be obtained.
The status of DNA Matching for samples from the site is listed by the Excavation Site Inquiry Tool as follows:
- "New Reports" indicates the number of samples for which a DNA Match was discovered and reported, when the Match was made to a missing person for whom no Match had previously been found.
- "Re-association Reports" indicates the number of DNA Match Reports that have been made when new samples match individuals that have already been identified. In these cases, the DNA Match Reports allow for the re-association of additional body parts to an individual who has already had a DNA match to family reference samples.
Explanatory Note for ICMP DNA Tracking Charts.ICMP maintains Tracking Charts that summarize basic metrics relating to ICMP’s DNA identification program in various areas of activity, relating to the Western Balkans overall, and in other projects worldwide. In all cases, the DNA identification process is based on genetic matching of DNA profiles from unidentified human remains ("PM" samples) to the DNA profiles obtained from samples of living family members ("Reference" samples). Large databases of Reference and PM DNA profiles are compared by ICMP's specialized computer software to discover "DNA matches". DNA matches indicate with great surety that the PM DNA profile is related to a specific family in the manner that has been designated for a specific reported missing person.
Explanation of key terms on the charts follows:
DNA Profile: DNA testing produces what is referred to as a DNA profile. This profile is a numerical designation representing the DNA variations that an individual has in many different locations in his/her DNA (chromosomes). Taken together, the variations at these different locations (“loci”) will be unique to the individual (except for identical twins), so the DNA profile can be considered a unique identifier for an individual. Because of the way the DNA is inherited (half of each individual’s DNA comes from the mother, half from the father), comparisons of a missing persons’ DNA profile to DNA profiles of his/her relatives can indicate the fact that they are related in specific ways.
Reference Sample: A reference sample is a blood or other non-invasive biological sample taken from living family members of the missing, in order to determine a DNA profile to match to unidentified human remains belonging to that family. Reference samples are only used to assist with the identification process, but family members can also give consent for their profiles to be used in trials relating to human rights violations, war crimes, etc…, where evidence supporting the identification process is desired by the court.
Number of reference samples collected This category of the tracking chart shows the total number of reference samples collected for all the missing persons in the region. These reference samples have been provided by family members for the purpose of identification. The numbers of reference samples needed for identification of a person depends on how closely related the family members are to the missing person, and on the DNA characteristics of the family in question. Sometimes a single parent or child is enough, but usually two or more close relatives are needed. Family member with a closer kinship, such as parents, children, and siblings of the missing person are the most useful, but more distant relatives may also be helpful.
Number of missing persons represented by reference samples This category of the tracking chart indicates the total number of missing persons for which one or more reference samples have been collected.
PM Sample: A "post-mortem" sample, i.e., a physical sample taken from unidentified human remains in order to determine a DNA profile to match to family reference samples. The samples, usually in the form of bone and tooth samples are submitted to ICMP for DNA analysis and identification of missing persons. The chart shows the distribution of bone and teeth samples submitted to the ICMP for DNA analysis based on the recovery location of corresponding human remains.
Number of PM DNA Profiles Obtained This category of the tracking chart indicates how many PM samples DNA tested by the ICMP have given DNA profiles that have been entered into the ICMP's database for comparison to family reference DNA profiles.
Sample Contained Insufficient DNA This category of the tracking chart indicates the number of PM samples that, for reasons of environmental DNA degradation, did not have sufficient DNA to produce a DNA profile.
DNA Profiles Pending This indicates the number of PM samples for which DNA testing is currently in progress at the ICMP.
Estimated Number of Unique Profiles This indicates the number of different individuals represented by all the DNA profiles in ICMP’s PM DNA profile database. Because human remains are often recovered as partial skeletons, especially from secondary graves, often multiple samples from the same individual are tested. Each sample from the same individual gives the same DNA profile. “Unique profiles” refers to those profiles that differ from those of other individuals, so the number of unique profiles is the same as the number of different individuals in the database.
DNA Match/DNA Match Report: When a DNA profile from the PM sample of unidentified human remains is seen to correspond to a specific set of family reference DNA profiles, based on principles of heredity, the surety of the correspondence can be calculated mathematically. A DNA Match Report is issued when the surety of the DNA evidence exceeds 99.95% for a particular missing person.
Presumptive Case: When a sample from a missing person is submitted to the ICMP together with a probable identity already known, this is called a Presumptive Case. The DNA results may confirm the presumptive identity, in which case a Match Report is issued, or it may disprove the presumed identity, in which case an Exclusion Report is issued. Statistical Comparison Reports or Inconclusive DNA Reports may also be issued for Presumptive Cases.
Statistical Comparison Report: Similar to a DNA Match Report, a Statistical Comparison Report indicates the result of a DNA comparison between a family and a missing person. Statistical Comparison Reports are issued when the DNA comparison shows strong evidence of identification, but the evidence does not reach the 99.95% surety required to classify as a DNA Match. Statistical Comparison Reports are issued in consultation with identification authorities, and are intended to be used with other evidence to conclude identification.
Inconclusive DNA Reports: In some cases submitted as presumptive cases, the DNA results can neither exclude nor provide enough positive evidence to result in a DNA Match or Statistical Comparison Report. In such cases, Inconclusive Reports are issued.
Re-association DNA Report: Sometimes, as is often the case with secondary mass graves, the remains of missing persons are fragmented and DNA typing is used to re-associate different body parts from the same individual, which show exactly the same DNA profile. In cases where a DNA profile from a sample matches another body part that has already been matched to a family, a Re-association DNA Report is issued on the new sample, for the same missing person.
Personal data will be treated as confidential and used only for purposes for which it was provided. For further information, please contact ICMP or see ICMP's data protection policy.