A delegation of five members of the Iraqi Parliament concluded an eight-day visit to the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP). The delegation stayed in BiH from March 27 to April 3 2012 during which period they received in-depth presentations of ICMP experiences with the missing persons issue and met with representatives of relevant BiH authorities and NGOs.
During a series of meetings with ICMP staff the Iraqi parliamentarians learned about ICMP’s institutional capacity building, activities to create legislation and ICMP’s efforts to assist in enhancing the capability of local institutions to locate, recover and identify missing persons. In addition, ICMP provided an overview of the critical work of civil society in all aspects of the process and of ensuring that family associations of the missing in particular are fully educated and informed about the process and their legal rights.
The delegation also met with officials from the BiH Missing Persons Institute, the BiH Ministry of Human Rights and Refugees, the Institution of Human Rights Ombudsmen of BiH and the Joint Commission for Human Rights, Rights of Children, Youth, Immigration, Refugees, Asylum and Ethics of BIH – who briefed the delegation on the model used in BiH to account for over 70 %of the estimated 30,000 persons missing from the BiH conflicts.
“We have found that ICMP is an organization that gives enormous importance to human rights issues and its work has had a visibly huge impact on the process here. We are transferring this experience and knowledge to our country. Humankind should be proud of ICMP’s achievements. We also met with families of missing persons who told us that without ICMP they wouldn’t be able to bury many of their family members. They feel that without the identified body of their sons it is like they had never had sons at all. We appeal to the international community to stand side by side with this organization”, said Sheikh Mohammad al-Hendawi, Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Martyrs, Victims and Political Prisoners at the end of his visit to ICMP.
“The task of accounting for the almost quarter of a million persons missing in Iraq is daunting,” said Kathryne Bomberger, Director-General of the ICMP. “What we have been trying to achieve in Iraq, is to help Iraq build the institutional infrastructure that will allow them to mount a credible, accountable, transparent and sustainable missing persons process that allows all persons, regardless of their sectarian or national origin, or the circumstance of their disappearance to be accounted for,” she added.
ICMP has been cooperating with Iraqi authorities, namely with the Ministry of Human Rights, the Ministry of Health, the Martyrs Foundation, the Ministry of Martyrs and Anfal Affairs and the Kurdish Regional Government’s Ministry of Health since 2008. ICMP helped Iraq create a technical plan to locate, recover and identify the missing and has trained 170 Iraqi experts in proper excavation and exhumation techniques. ICMP has offices in Baghdad and Erbil.
The number of missing persons in Iraq ranges from 250,000 to over one million, according to different public sources in Iraq and includes persons missing as a consequence of human rights violations and other atrocities committed during the regime of Saddam Hussein, as well as years of armed conflict.