Practice Relating to Rule 117. Accounting for Missing Persons
The Russian Federation’s Regulations on the Application of IHL (2001) states: “After the termination of combat operations the division commander in addition to routine measures shall take steps to search for the … missing, regardless of what forces they belong to.”
According to the Report on the Practice of the Russian Federation, a great effort has been made to determine the fate of Japanese persons who were reported missing in the USSR, but only during the period of perestroika
. The Joint Soviet-Japanese Commission and the Japanese Union of ex-Prisoners have made some progress in this field.
According to the report, there are no specific rules in the Russian Federation or in other countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States to regulate the search for missing persons. In practice, private organizations have assumed State functions. Representatives of the Soldiers’ Mothers Committee, for example, have gone to Chechnya with the mothers of missing soldiers to find out what happened to their sons.
146. Following the war and the 1994 Genocide of Tutsis, there are children who have been separated from their families. The efforts made by Rwanda to reunify these children with their families have been mentioned in the initial report. The process of reuniting children with their families continues in collaboration with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). In this connection, announcements related to children in search of their families are regularly broadcast on national radio station. In these announcements, anyone who recognizes a child among those whose names are mentioned on radio is requested to notify ICRC that takes steps to reunite the child with his family.
147. ICRC works also with Rwanda Demobilisation and Reintegration Commission in tracing the families of Rwandan children involved in armed conflicts in DRC returning to their country.
The Russian Federation’s Military Manual (1990) recalls the rules of IHL, “which set the obligation: a) in peacetime: … to provide for a set of measures relating to the organization of tracing, registration of and reporting of missing persons, and also of a service to implement these measures”.