Meeting with Red Cross on identification of Argentine remains

A MEMBER of Legislative Assembly has flown to Geneva to meet with a representative of International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on the issue of identification of Argentine remains.

If identification is to take place of Argentine soldiers buried in the Falkland Islands, it would have to be done with the full agreement and involvement of the Falkland Islands Government, MLA Summers will tell the ICRC.

 

The Government of Argentina (GoA) earlier this year contacted the UK Government about the possibility of DNA identification taking place on the remains of unknown soldiers buried at Darwin. The Falklands Government (FIG) has been closely consulted by the UK Government on this, “though we have received no direct request from GoA,” said a press release from FIG earlier this week.

A spokesperson said FIG had always made clear that it remained committed to its humanitarian obligations, and extended its sympathy to the families of those who lost their lives.

A press release noted: “It is understood that the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) had been assisting GoA with their proposals for some time before GoA raised the issue with the UK.

“The Geneva Convention sets down the requirements on Convention signatories to enable the identification and proper burial of all persons lost in combat, and the provisions for repatriation. 

It is the position of FIG and the UK Government that if any identification is to take place of combatants buried in the Falkland Islands, it would have to be done with the full agreement and involvement of the Falkland Islands Government.

The press release stated: “If the ICRC is to have a role to play it is important that it understands and accepts the Constitutional arrangements between the UK and the Falkland Islands, and acknowledges the formal role that FIG would have to take in any identification process that might take place in our jurisdiction.”

MLA Summers is to meet on Monday with the President of the ICRC, Peter Maurer in Geneva, to seek assurances from the ICRC of its understanding of the role FIG would have to play, and to invite the ICRC to explain their activities on this project to date, how they can gain the confidence of Falkland Islanders and that they would have a strictly neutral position in any supervisory role they might play.

The UK Government is considering carefully the approach made by the Government of Argentina and has consulted FIG on how to respond. 

FIG’s engagement with the ICRC is part of this sensitive humanitarian process. FIG will review its position after the meeting next week.