Practice Relating to Rule 117. Accounting for Missing Persons
Section C. International cooperation to account for missing persons
In 2009, in its comments on the “status of the Protocols additional to the 1949 Geneva Conventions relating to the protection of victims of armed conflict”, Iraq stated:
1. Iraq acceded to the first [A]dditional Protocol by Law No. 85 of 2001.
2. A working agreement was concluded with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) that empowered [the] ICRC, with the coordination and cooperation of the Ministry of Human Rights, to carry out its mandate, in accordance with the 1949 Geneva Conventions and its Protocols, to follow up the humanitarian file relating to prisoners, missing persons and the remains of war victims through a number of committees that were established by the Tripartite Commission which was constituted on 8 March 1991. One adjunct to the Commission was the Technical Subcommittee, the members of which include, in addition to Iraq, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, France, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the United States of America.
3. Two further committees were established concerning relations with Iran, namely, the Prisoners and Missing Persons Committee, which is a joint Iraq-Iran committee, and the joint Iraq-Iran technical committee that seeks the remains of war victims. Those committees operated up until 2003, after which two memorandums of understanding were concluded. The first, that was signed on 11 June 2008 by Iraq and ICRC, concerned follow-up to the Iraqi and Iranian prisoners file. The second, concluded by Iraq, Iran and ICRC, was signed in Geneva, Switzerland, on 16 October 2008, and concerned oversight of the work of the subcommittees.
In 2010, Iraq’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a press release entitled “Foreign [M]inister receives the head of the Iraq program [of the] ICMP”, which stated:
On Feb. 082010, the [Minister of Foreign Affairs] received in his office the head of [the] Iraq program [of] the ICMP [International Commission on Missing Persons] where the [ICMP]’s work program [in Iraq] was discussed … and the necessity of starting an own office in Baghdad to support [the] government’s efforts to solve the issue of the missing persons.
Th[e ICMP] is not a specialized UN agency, but rather a non[-]governmental committee concerned with handling issues of missing persons during the Iran-Iraq war, the second [G]ulf war, and the victims [buried in] mass graves during the reign of the ex[-]regime, as well as persons [gone] missing in operations after 2003 due to armed conflicts and terror operations[. Such handling is done] based on DNA traces of the missing persons. During the meeting, prospects of signing a cooperation agreement between Iraq and the ICMP were discussed, [and] both [the] [M]inistries of [H]uman [R]ights and [F]oreign [A]ffairs approved such signature to make use of the organization’s services.
In 2011, Iraq’s Ministry of Human Rights issued a press release entitled “Statement: The [M]inistry of [H]uman [R]ights receives 38 remains from the Iranian side”, which stated:
The [M]inistry of [H]uman Rights had received on Tuesday Feb. 01, 2011 [at the] Shalamja border crossing the remains of 38 Iraqi martyrs that lost their lives during the Iraqi-Iranian war. … Five of the martyrs received were of known identity and [this] shall be duly published after testing and inspection, to be delivered to their families. The names of the known martyrs were published by the [M]inistry in the media … and were not received by their families yet.
It is worth mentioning that the number of remains received from [the] Iranian side had reached 249, some of them of known and [some of] unknown identities[,] while 52 Iranian remains were handed over to the Iranian side from 2003 until this date[.]
In 2011, Iraq’s Ministry of Human Rights issued a press release entitled “T[h]e Minister of Human [R]ights meets the head of the ICRC and discusses … the file of missing Kuwaitis”, which stated:
[T]he [M]inister [of Human Rights] expressed [the] gratitude of the [R]epublic of Iraq to the ICRC for its efforts in Iraq and his wishes for the continuation of such cooperation …
The [M]inister also expressed his hope to obtain support in the file of missing Kuwaitis that Iraq looks forward to finaliz[ing, it] being a humanitarian commitment before being a legal one, as the new Iraq is working hard with all possible means to apply humanitarian standards in all its activities. … The [M]inister said that he expressed to the [G]overnment of Kuwait his keenness to finalize this file once and for all.
In 2011, Iraq’s Ministry of Human Rights issued a press release entitled “The [M]inistry of Human [R]ights signs an MOU with the ICRC”, which stated:
[T]he [M]inister of [H]uman [R]ights said that the aim of [the] signing of this MOU is to strengthen the capacity of t[h]e Zubair center in Basrah to enhance the process of dealing with the remains of martyrs and to develop technologies required to preserve such remains.
He added that the history of cooperation between Iraq and the ICRC [goes] back to 1980[,] stating that it is imperative that Iraq is working to continue with such cooperation through provision of technologies and equipment and preparations of t[he] [M]inistry to deal with missing Iraqis[’] and Iranian[s’] files.
He indicated that such preparations require the readiness of [the] Zubair [C]enter in the fi[el]d of identifying the remains through DNA testing and preparing the center to receive such remains, expressing his hope that the ICRC would consider Iraq’s positive response regarding the Kuwaiti and Iranian files and the future efforts in this course. He expressed the [M]insitry[’s] readiness to deal with any piece of information from the American or Kuwaiti sides regarding this issue in addition to [the] [M]inistry’s own efforts.
In 2011, Iraq’s Ministry of Human Rights issued a press release entitled “The Min[is]try of Human Rights hands over remains [from the] Iraq-Iran war to the Iranian sid[e]”, which stated:
The Iraqi side, represented by the [M]inistry of [H]uman [R]ights, handed over to Iran the remains of 17 Iranians [on] April 04, 2011 through [the] Al-Shalamja border crossing. … It is worth mentioning that Iran handed over to Iraq 38 remains of Iraqi martyrs, 6 of which were of known identity and [whose] names were published in local media.
The exchange of remains process between the two sides shall continue as soon as such remains are found[,] according to the two MOUs signed by Iraq[,] represented by the Ministry of Human Rights[,] and Iran, in coordi[n]ation with the ICRC.
In 2011, Iraq’s Ministry of Human Rights issued a press release entitled “The Minister of Human Rights discusses with the ICRC a proposal related to detention institutions”, which stated:
[T]he Minister of Human Rights had discussed with … the head of [the] ICRC delegation to Iraq the excavations taking place in Fao city and the search for the remains of Iranians [gone] missing during the first [G]ulf war and the possibility of involving the Iranian side which offered its cooperation in this field.
In 2012, Iraq’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a press release entitled “Foreign Minister meets UNICEF representatives and chief of ICRC mission in Iraq”, which stated:
The Foreign [M]inister also met with … [t]he head of [the] ICRC delegation to Iraq … Exploration for the remains of missing Iraqi and Iranian LIAs [persons lost in action] in [the] Fao and Majnoun areas, and the work of the Iraqi-Iranian-ICRC [tripartite] committee were also discussed.
The [M]inister also demonstrated the results of Iraqi-Kuwaiti discussions during the work of the second session of the [H]igh [M]inisterial [C]ommittee, mainly the humanitarian file, assuring the Iraqi-Kuwaiti cooperation is continuing in search of Kuwaiti missing persons and properties, adding that this issue was discussed in detail and several recommendations were put forward to continue the search and turn the issue into a bilateral issue under the supervision of the ICRC o[r] UNAMI [UN Assistance Mission for Iraq] if required.
In 2012, Iraq’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a press release concerning the file on the missing, which stated:
The technical committee [created] to discu[ss] [the issue of] missing Iraqis and Kuwaitis had held its 76th meeting in Kuwait [on] 16-19 of September 2012 [in] the presence of all committee members (Iraq, Kuwait, the US, the UK, and France) under the supervision of the ICRC, which chaired the meeting. The activities of the [Iraqi] Human Rights [M]inistry were discussed, mainly th[o]se related to excavation and exploration in proposed burial locations of Kuwaiti missing citizens, and preparations for excavating in new burial locations in [the] Al-Khamisiyah area in Dhi Qar province. The meeting also discussed the necessity of contacting Iraqi witnesses in[side] and out[side] of Iraq who have information of missing Kuwaitis, and [of] making use of updated technologies like aerial photography and GPR devices in [the] exploration of burial sites, demanding member countries (US, UK, and France) to provide expertise and training in the field. During the meeting, [it was] stress[ed] that [the] ICRC shall provide [the] most updated information adopted in forensic medicine and analysis of information, and [the] Kuwaiti side [was asked] to explore new areas where potential Iraqi missing persons might be buried.