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Abkhazia/Georgia: Training in forensic methods used to search for missing persons

12-12-2006 News Release 06/75

A workshop on the techniques used to recover and identify human remains is being held by the ICRC, together with Abkhaz specialists, in Sukhumi from 11 to 15 December.

Its purpose is to provide training in the basic principles of forensic science used in the search for missing persons. A similar workshop will be held, together with Georgian specialists, in the first half of 2007.

More than a decade after the cessation of hostilities, close to 2,000 Georgian and Abkhaz families remain without news of relatives who went missing during the 1992-1993 conflict in Abkhazia. The workshop will provide an opportunity for forensic experts and other specialists to review the skills needed to make further headway in the search for these people.

" Families need to know what has happened to their loved ones, even if the news is tragic, " said Samuel Emonet, ICRC protection coordinator. " Whenever human remains are recovered, they must be identified using the best possible methods. We hope that this workshop will provide local forensic practitioners with the information they need to do just that. "

In conformity with its mandate to help establish the fate of missing persons, the ICRC is committed to providing specialized training for both Abkhaz and Georgian professionals involved in the recovery and identification process. The availability of highly trained personnel on both sides of the conflict who adhere to the same ethical and professional standards and respect all the relevant legal procedures is extremely important if progress is to be made in determining the fate of the missing.

Under the pro visions of international humanitarian law, the parties to armed conflict are responsible for addressing the issue of missing persons. In particular, the authorities must take all feasible measures to establish the fate of persons unaccounted for as a result of the conflict. The families concerned have the right to know what happened to their relatives and must be informed accordingly.

For additional information, please contact:
  Maia Kardava, ICRC Tbilisi, tel. ++ 995 32 35 55 10
  Annick Bouvier, ICRC Geneva, tel. ++ 41 22 730 24 58 / ++ 41 79 217 32 24