ICMP calls on governments to address the issue of missing persons on International Human Rights Day

Article posted on December 10, 2009

On the occasion of International Human Rights Day, the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) calls on governments worldwide to work for the resolution of cases of missing and disappeared persons.

“Today it is vital to remember and commemorate those persons who are missing from armed conflict, crimes against humanity and other violations of human rights from existence around the world.  We must remember those persons who have been effectively deleted because they belonged to the wrong nationality, religion, race, class, gender or political group,” said ICMP’s Director-General, Ms.Kathryne Bomberger. 

“Many countries around the world are confronted with large numbers of missing persons and cases of enforced disappearances. Resolving these cases is important to the implementation of the rule of law and to the establishment of peace and justice, as well as to ending the suffering experienced by relatives of the missing who live in a state of uncertainty concerning the fate of a missing loved one. Their pain and suffering is increased by the lingering uncertainty regarding the fate of a loved one. The United Nations and the European Court for Human Rights have classified this continual suffering as a form of mental torture,” she added.

ICMP assists governments worldwide in addressing the complex issue of resolving cases of missing persons from the recent past which poses political, legal, technical and emotional challenges. As the number of cases of missing persons across the globe continues to rise it is vital that  channels of communication between the families of victims and the Governments concerned are established and maintained, and that individual cases are investigated.

ICMP’s worldwide operations include the provision of assistance to the governments of the Western Balkans, Iraq, the Philippines, Chile and Colombia, as well as assistance to Kuwait, Norway, Thailand and South Africa. Of the 40,000 people estimated missing from the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia, ICMP has identified 15,282 since 2001 using DNA-assisted techniques. Worldwide ICMP has made DNA matches to families of nearly 16,500 missing persons.

In addition to its technical support, ICMP contributes to transitional justice activities, provides legislative support and helps in the development of networks of civil society organizations which advocate for truth, justice, and the rights of family members of missing persons. ICMP’s work is also supported by the governments of Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, the Holy See, Iceland, Ireland, Poland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Spain, the United Kingdom, the United States and the EU.