H.M. Queen Noor, a Commissioner of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP), addressed the U.S. Helsinki Committee in Washington yesterday at a hearing on responses to the issue of missing persons in the countries of the Organization on Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
ICMP estimates that worldwide there are over 1 million persons missing from war, violations of human rights, human trafficking and drug related violence, as well as approximately 150,000 persons who go missing from natural disasters on an annual basis. Despite the scale of the problem Queen Noor stressed that the issue of missing persons remains a silent one.
“When people go missing, particularly those who disappear as a consequence of violent crimes perpetrated by state authorities or others acting on their behalf, the family members left behind are terrified to seek answers about the fate and whereabouts of their loved ones.”
“In most of the world today family members have no legal recourse through which they can demand answers and those who may be brave enough to ask, fear reprisals from authorities which were, in many cases, are responsible for the disappearance in the first place”, said Her Majesty Queen Noor, adding that an unprecedented achievement was made in the Western Balkans where more than 70% of the 40,000 missing persons have been identified, thanks to ICMP, local institutions and the heroic efforts of thousands of families of the missing.
Queen Noor also stressed the critical role of employing accurate, scientifically-based methods in exhumations of mortal remains from illicit grave sites as well as identifications, as any information recorded and obtained therein will be critical to the process of justice.
ICMP was created in 1996 at a G-7 Summit in Lyon, France, at the initiative of U.S. President Clinton, as the only international effort of its kind to deal exclusively with the issue of missing persons. Queen Noor has served as a member of ICMP for over a decade. Other ICMP commissioners include its Chairman Ambassador Thomas Miller, Ambassador Rolf Ekéus, Rt. Hon. Michael Portillo, Willem Kok, Ambassador Carolina Barco and Chairman Emeritus James V. Kimsey.
Read the full speech by HM Queen Noor here.