COMMITEE ON MISSING PERSONS
About the CMP
From 1974-1977, a number of inter-communal meetings on the problem of the missing persons were held but made no significant progress. Between 1977 and 1981, negotiations took place in Nicosia, Geneva and New York for the establishment of a Committee on Missing Persons in Cyprus (CMP). Between 1975 and 1978 the UN General Assembly (GA) adopted three different resolutions on the missing persons in Cyprus, calling for the establishment of an investigatory body to tackle this humanitarian problem. Subsequently, the GA adopted two additional resolutions in 1981 and 1982, respectively, welcoming the establishment of the CMP and urging the CMP to proceed without delay in carrying out its mandate.
The CMP was established in April 1981 by agreement between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities under the auspices of the United Nations. Over the next two decades, work on both sides focused on conducting investigations to establish the fate of the missing and negotiate a common official list of all those who disappeared. Blood samples were collected from relatives to aid future identifications. In 1997, the leaders of the two communities agreed to provide each other immediately and simultaneously all information already at their disposal on the location of graves of Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot missing persons.
The Committee on Missing Persons in Cyprus (CMP) is a bi-communal body established in 1981 by the leaders of the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities with the participation of the United Nations. Following the establishment of an agreed list of missing persons, the CMP’s objective is to recover, identify, and return to their families, the remains of 2001 persons (502 Turkish Cypriots and 1,493 Greek Cypriots) who went missing during the inter-communal fighting of 1963 to 1964 and the events of 1974.
The CMP has three Members, two appointed respectively by the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities and a third Member selected by the International Committee of the Red Cross and appointed by the United Nations Secretary-General. The Turkish Cypriot Member is Gulden Plumer Kucuk, the Greek Cypriot Member is Nestoras Nestoros and The Third Member is Paul-Henri Arni. Furthermore, the CMP employs a bi-communal forensic team of more than 60 Cypriot archeologists, anthropologists and geneticists, who conduct excavations throughout the island and anthropological and genetic analyses of remains at the CMP Anthropological Laboratory.
The CMP does not attempt to establish the cause of death or attribute responsibility for the death of missing persons. Its objective is a humanitarian one, bringing closure to thousands of affected families through the return of the remains of their missing relatives.
Since 2008, the CMP’s bi-communal forensic team has been carrying out exhumations autonomously (up to 8 teams in the north and 2 teams in the south). EAAF forensic experts continue to be involved in the project for quality control purposes.
In 2006, the climate was ripe for the CMP to begin excavations and exhumations on both sides of the island. In order to provide the required expertise, archaeologists and anthropologists from the Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team (EAAF) were brought in to coordinate and train a bi-communal team of Cypriot scientists involved in exhumations and anthropological analysis. An anthropological laboratory was set-up in the United Nations Protected Area in Nicosia.
July 2007 marked a turning point of historical significance: the CMP began returning the first remains of Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot individuals to their families. These individuals had been missing since the tragic events of 1963-64 and 1974.
The primary objective of the CMP is to enable relatives of missing persons to recover the remains of their loved ones, arrange for a proper burial and close a long period of anguish and uncertainty. Most Cypriot families have been directly or indirectly affected and it is hoped that the healing of old wounds will in turn favour the overall process of reconciliation between both communities
The primary objective of the CMP is to return the remains of missing persons to their families in order to arrange for a proper burial and close a long period of anguish and uncertainty. Most Cypriot families have been directly or indirectly affected and it is hoped that the healing of old wounds will in turn favour the overall process of reconciliation between both communities. To this end, the project is of a bi-communal nature with teams of Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot scientists involved at every stage of the exhumation and identification processes.
The project includes an Archaeological Phase (Phase I), related to the exhumation of the remains of missing persons, an Anthropological Phase (Phase II), related to the analysis of the recovered remains at the CMP Anthropological Laboratory, and a Genetic Phase (Phase III), related to the DNA identification process. In the final phase, Identification and Return of Remains (Phase IV), the information obtained in all previous phases is reconciled and a formal identification is made. This is followed by the return of the identified remains to their families, usually accompanied by efforts to help the families cope with the difficult task of coming to terms with their loss.
There is a DNA Laboratorythat is functioning under Turkish Cypriot Member’s Office of CMP to provide population reference profiles of the Turkish Cypriots.
Terms of Reference and Mandate
The CMP’s mandate is set out in the “Terms of Reference” agreed upon in 1981 and in subsequent agreements by the leaders of the two communities:
Establishment of the Committee on Missing Persons in Cyprus
1. A committee on missing persons in Cyprus will be formed immediately consisting of three members. The Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot sides will each appoint one humanitarian person to the committee. The third member will be an official selected by the ICRC for that purpose with the agreement of both sides and appointed by the Secretary-General of the United Nations.
2. The decisions of the committee will be taken by consensus to the extent possible. In the event of disagreement between the representatives of the two sides, the third member shall consult both of them with a view to bringing their views together and reaching a consensus.
3. Each of the committee members can be assisted by up to two staff assistants as necessary. No other persons will participate in the deliberations or investigative work of the committee. No person directly involved with the issue of missing persons may be appointed as staff assistant. The committee will not request outside expert assistance.
4. The committee will not have a chairman, but the meetings will be directed by the members on a rotating basis for a period of one month’s duration --- the first director will be the official of the ICRC, to be followed by the Turkish Cypriot member or the Greek Cypriot member, to be determined at the first meeting by lot.
5. The three members of the committee will meet immediately and will continue in regularly scheduled sessions for as long as required.
6. All parties concerned shall co-operate with the committee to ensure access throughout the island for the investigative work of the committee.
7. The committee shall look only into cases of persons reported missing in the inter-communal fightings as well as in the events of July 1974 and afterwards.
8. The order of investigation of cases will be decided by the committee, but it is agreed that the first investigative case will be put forward by the Turkish Cypriot member of the committee. This will be followed by a case put forward by the Greek Cypriot member. The investigations will rotate to the extent possible until all cases have been examined.
9. The committee’s entire proceedings and findings will be strictly confidential. Any violation of this rule would place the work of the committee in jeopardy.
10. The committee will determine whether to issue public statements or reports
without prejudice to paragraph 9.
11. The committee will not attempt to attribute responsibility for the deaths of any
missing persons or make findings as to the cause of such deaths.
12. No disinterment will take place under the aegis of this committee. The committee may refer requests for disinterment to the ICRC for processing under its customary procedures.
13. The committee will use its best efforts to draw up comprehensive lists of missing persons of both communities, specifying as appropriate whether they are alive or dead, and in the latter case approximate time of the deaths.