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Identification of missing persons: Ukrainian forensic experts undergo joint training with international experts

23 June 2023

The training on archeology in forensic science and anthropology for experts from the Bureau of Forensic Expertise of Ukraine lasted 2 months. Specialists from the Main and regional forensic bureaus of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine and the Ministry of Justice cooperated with specialists from the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP). In particular, they worked out algorithms for recognizing unidentified bodies by age and using photo/video evidence in accordance with international standards. This will ensure that the examinations comply with the requirements of international law and that the research is submitted as evidence to international courts.

“This is an important experience for Ukrainian specialists, given that in our country the identification of remains takes place during the hot phase of the war. The process of reforming the forensic medical examination is underway. We are building a centralized network of institutions under the management of the Ministry of Health. The Main Bureau of Forensic Medical Examination of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine is the main expert institution at the national level, which will have branches in every region of Ukraine. The final decision and resolution of complex issues to be resolved by the investigation will depend on the decision of the forensic physician. Therefore, this year, 5 laboratories will be equipped to conduct DNA examinations, while currently such examinations are conducted only in 3 oblasts,” said Deputy Minister, Chief State Sanitary Doctor Ihor Kuzin.

The participants of the trainings received international certificates and underwent practical training in the identification of unidentified bodies and missing persons. In particular, they were trained in section drawings and excavation work to eliminate any risks and inaccuracies when working with the received samples of missing persons.

The training was attended by 41 experts. These are forensic experts and forensic doctors from the Main Bureau of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine from Kyiv, Chernihiv, Kharkiv, Zaporizhzhia, Mykolaiv, and Luhansk oblasts.  



The International Commission on Missing Persons provides expert support to Ukrainian institutions responsible for the search and identification of missing persons. The trainings were supported by the European Union in Ukraine.

ICMP is an intergovernmental organization headquartered in Hague with a mandate to ensure cooperation between governments and other stakeholders in the search for persons missing as a result of war, human rights violations or other circumstances. The organization supports efforts to help countries identify individuals based on scientific data by operating a unique laboratory. Thus, the organization's experts study DNA samples recovered, in particular, from mass graves. DNA samples of living relatives are also compared. This is important for families who have been separated, including as a result of forced deportation of children.