States’ obligations under the IHL related to the protection and management of the deceased and families’ right to know
Persons who die as a result of armed conflict, other situations of violence, migration, or natural disasters are considered within the category of victims protected by IHL. According to the provisions of Customary IHL, the dead must be handled respectfully, their dignity must be protected, and the remains of unknown individuals must be identified. Furthermore, IHL protects the families’ right to know the whereabouts and the fate of their missing relatives:
- Rule 112. Search for and Collection of the Dead. Whenever circumstances permit, and particularly after an engagement, each party to the conflict must, without delay, take all possible measures to search for, collect and evacuate the dead without adverse distinction.
- Rule 113. Treatment of the Dead. Each party to the conflict must take all possible measures to prevent the dead from being despoiled. Mutilation of dead bodies is prohibited.
- Rule 114. Return of the Remains and Personal Effects of the Dead. Parties to the conflict must endeavor to facilitate the return of the remains of the deceased upon request of the party to which they belong or upon the request of their next of kin. They must return their personal effects to them.
- Rule 115. Disposal of the Dead. The dead must be disposed of in a respectful manner and their graves respected and properly maintained.
- Rule 116. Accounting for the Dead. With a view to the identification of the dead, each party to the conflict must record all available information prior to disposal and mark the location of the graves.
- Rule 117. Each party to the conflict must take all feasible measures to account for persons reported missing as a result of armed conflict and must provide their family members with any information it has on their fate.
The objective of this study is to gain comprehensive understanding of applicable policies and legal frameworks relevant to death investigations and the medico-legal system in Azerbaijan so that concrete and meaningful recommendations towards improving relevant forensic processes and procedures can be brought forward.
These processes and procedures including the following:
- Investigations conducted by judicial authorities on cases of people killed in the context of armed conflict, violence, or disasters (including the preservation of the chain of custody); authorities and agencies in charge, their mandates, roles, and responsibilities.
- Certification of death.
- Recognition and the rights of the missing and their families, appeals process for rejection of the results of the identification process.
- Search and recovery of human remains, including survey, excavation, exhumation, transportation, and storage.
- Medico-legal autopsies on bodies, body parts, and skeletonized human remains, institutions in charge, their roles and responsibilities; indication for medico-legal autopsies.
- Genetic analysis (biological reference sample collection from families, from human remains, information crossing, and institutions in charge).
- Fingerprint analysis (collection, analysis, and storage).
- Forensic data management (collection, analyses, storage, life cycle of and access to data), data protection.
- Confirmation of identification
- Claimed and unclaimed bodies, release of bodies to families.
Disposition of Bodies:
- Responsibilities at different administrative levels (municipalities, regions, national)
- Death registration.
- Families’ rights regarding disposition and ceremonies.
- Mandatory storage time/procedures in case of unidentified/unclaimed bodies.
- Repatriation of human remains, international legal frameworks.
- Provision, protection, and maintenance of gravesites.
Emergency Management and Mass Fatality Response:
- Lead agency, mandate, regulating law
- Contributing agencies
- Specific laws, policies
- Activation – deactivation mechanism, mobilization of resources
The scope of the study encompasses existing laws, sub-laws, decrees, and/or other normative acts adopted by the legislative and executive bodies, relevant policy documents and/or decisions, their application and implementation in practice, and their compatibility with IHL.
The Consultant is expected to carry out an analysis of legal and policy frameworks pertaining to:
- Existing frameworks, e.g. agencies, mandates, laws for the abovementioned processes
- Identifying gaps, key challenges, and good practices in the implementation of such frameworks;
- Drawing recommendations aimed at working towards either the revision of existing or the adoption of new frameworks, as well as of other measures to address existing gaps.
- Drawing practical conclusions and recommendations on the applicability of the existing legal frameworks to the search and identification of missing persons, including on the possible role that families of missing persons may play during the process.
The consultant is expected to have at the minimum the following qualifications:
- Post-graduate degree in law
- Proven experience in civil and criminal law
- Knowledge of the applicable IHL framework
- Proven experience in conducting independent research
- Excellent command of oral and written English
- Ability to take initiative and to work independently
- Compliance with the principles and working modalities of the ICRC
Experience in working on issues pertaining to missing persons and their families will be an asset.
How to applyYou are welcome to send your CV