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Missing persons issue: A huge challenge for Ukraine

Matthew Holliday, Program Director Europe, of the International Commission for Missing Persons, says Ukraine is getting there where the issue is concerned, but Ukraine’s institutions should better relate to one another.

Missing persons issue: A huge challenge for Ukraine

Coming in and going out of Ukraine in a car with Bosnian diplomatic number plates, Matthew Holliday brings along a lot of experience gained in the Western Balkans but admits there are significant challenges in Ukraine that he and his team have not encountered before.

Screenshot: International Commission on Missing Persons

Matthew Holliday: The issue is a huge challenge to Ukraine and, obviously, also to the families that have their relatives missing. On the one hand, there’s state responsibility, a policy issue, if you like. But on the other hand it is deeply personal: it comes down and touches individual citizens that have their missing relatives and are seeking answers.

I think that Ukraine has done incredible work in terms of stepping up to fulfill its responsibilities. It adopted the law on persons missing in special circumstances. It has a whole range of different institutions engaged in the process: the department on missing persons within the Ministry for Internal Affairs, the National Police are fully engaged, there are DNA labs within the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Internal Affairs that are working on biological samples to try and facilitate the identifications. We know that the Prosecutor’s Office is engaged 24/7, trying to build cases to hold perpetrators accountable.

Ukraine has done and is doing a huge amount, but I think there are gaps, and I think a lot of these gaps relate to how the institutions in Ukraine relate one to another. It’s challenging in any country for one ministry to work with another ministry, but I think Ukraine is getting there, and ICMP is doing its bit to support Ukraine in fulfilling its obligations.

ALSO: What does Program Director Europe do in the operation as complex and as international as ICMP.

ALSO: What is Matthew Holliday’s take on the book «A Country of Missing People» written by an ICMP expert, Kevin Sullivan, about Ukraine.

Learn more by visiting: «A Country of Missing People»: The Book of Numbers and Fates

ALSO: What can be the part of ICMP in helping Ukrainian investigator reach out to Ukrainians abroad.

ALSO: What are the prospects of ICMP’s further cooperation with Ukraine’s General Prosecutor’s Office.

Learn more by visiting: No going out of business for ICMP, in Ukraine or elsewhere

ALSO: How ICMP finds partners among Ukraine’s civil society organizations.

ALSO: Why ICMP uses the term «war» when referring to the Russian invasion and what role can ICMP play in transitional justice in Ukraine.

You may listen to the full interview by turning on the audio player at the top of the page.


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