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Libya Minister for Missing Persons Discusses ICMP Assistance.

As a part of an ongoing process of cooperation and consultations on the issue of missing persons between the International Commission on Missing Persons, ICMP, and the Libyan Government, Naser Jibril Hamed, the Libyan minister for the Affairs of Families of Martyrs and Missing Persons, accompanied by six other members of the ministry, paid a weeklong visit to the ICMP in Sarajevo.

According to Libyan authorities thousands of people are reported missing in Libya from the recent conflict, as well as from wars in the 1970's and 1980's with Egypt, Uganda and Chad. In addition, 1,272 persons are reported missing from the 1996 massacre at the Abu Salim prison in Tripoli.

Kathryne Bomberger, Director-General of ICMP said that the focal point of the Libyan representatives' visit and discussions with them, was to ensure that Libya develops its own sustainable capacity to address this issue. In this regard, ICMP proposed the creation of a Libyan Identification Centre.

Ms Bomberg went on to say that, 'The creation of the Libyan Identification Centre would provide the first, important step in enabling Libya to develop a sustainable process to work on the issue of missing persons.' She said that the Centre would allow Libyan authorities to coordinate the domestic process, as well as international assistance. It would also allow for the development of a DNA laboratory system, starting with a facility to collect and store biological samples for DNA identity testing and culminating in the creation of a high throughput DNA laboratory.

In addition, the Centre would serve as a training and education centre allowing for long-term training in forensic anthropology, archeology, pathology, DNA identity testing, scene of crime management, use of ICMP's Forensic Science Database Management System, fDMS, as well as a centre for educating the families of the missing regarding their rights and the missing persons process, including the forensic process. The LIC could also act as a focal point for outreach campaigns, meetings and other events, Ms. Bomberger added: During his visit, Minister Naser Jibril Hamed counterd by saying: 'Libya is today faced with a huge problem, and that is to find, identify and return to the families the mortal remains of their missing relatives. We believe that ICMP's proposal for a Libyan Identification Centre is a good one, which we would like to pursue.' Mr Jibril Hamed said that his delegation was very impressed with ICMP's work and with the success that Bosnia and Herzegovina has had in accounting for its missing persons. It has provided a very good model for Libya, he added.

During his visit the Libyan minister met with ICMP experts from different fields relevant to the search and identification process, including forensic archeologists, anthropologists, IT specialists and geneticists.

He also had a chance to discuss Bosnia's experience regarding the missing persons issue with various BiH ministers, including Damir Ljubic, the Minister of Human Rights, the Ombudsperson Jasminka Dzumhur, the Minister of Security Sadik Ahmetovic, as well as members of the board of directors of the Missing Persons Institute (MPI) and other relevant individuals.

The delegation also spoke with families of missing persons in Bosnia and heard their personal stories.

The ICMP which was created in 1996, following the G-7 Summit in Lyon, France, seeks to secure the co-operation of governments and other authorities in locating and identifying persons missing as a result of armed conflicts, other hostilities or violations of human rights and to assist them in doing so. ICMP pioneered the use of DNA technology to identify large numbers of missing persons.

Today, the ICMP has helped scientifically identify 18,000 persons, and its database houses 150,000 genetic samples. ICMP maintains the highest throughput capability for DNA-based identifications in the world and as such it has become a centre for global assistance, not only in cases of human rights violations, but also in disaster situations.

It has also developed a unique software platform called the fDMS to manage the complex data, which it makes available to governments.

Since its establishment ICMP has been funded through voluntary grants, donations and contributions from the participating governments of Canada, Czech Republic, Chile, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, The Holy See, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, The Netherlands,Norway, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, The United Kingdom, The United States of America and The European Union.

2012 - The Tripoli Post

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Publication:The Tripoli Post (Tripoli, Libya)
Date:May 25, 2012
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