Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Nepal: Shedding light on fate of missing persons

Source: International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)

Kathmandu (ICRC) – In connection with efforts to resolve cases of missing persons in Nepal, a four-day workshop on forensics jointly organized by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Ministry of Peace and Reconstruction, with technical support from an Argentine forensics anthropology team, began in Kathmandu.

The workshop is focusing on the appropriate recovery and scientific analysis of mortal remains of people missing as a result of armed conflict or natural disaster. "These scientific steps are essential in determining what happened to missing persons and in correctly identifying their remains," said Dr Mercedes Salado Puerto, the lead forensic expert of the three-member Argentine team.

The 15 participants include staff working at the Forensics Medical Department of the Institute of Medicine, police officers and members of the National Human Rights Commission.

"Under international humanitarian law, the authorities bear primary responsibility for accounting for missing persons and for ensuring proper recovery and dignified handling of human remains," said Laure Schneeberger, deputy head of the ICRC delegation in Nepal.

By supporting the development of forensic expertise – one of many activities carried out by the ICRC to ease the pain of Nepali families whose relatives remain missing as a result of the armed conflict – the ICRC also aims to facilitate the work of the future Commission on Acts of Disappearance.

There remain over 1,350 families of missing persons in Nepal who are anxiously waiting to know what happened to their loved ones.