What is meant by a missing person?
A missing person generally refers to an individual who cannot be located by their families and has been reported missing because of conflict or war. In Iraq, families of missing persons can provide evidence to the court to prove the person is missing and obtain a death certificate. A death certificate can be an important document to have for families, not just for personal reasons, but also because it’s an official acknowledgment of the details around the death, and allows families to settle legal issues such as estates, insurance, pensions, inheritance, and family law matters. In this article, we will provide information for people with a missing family member on how to report a missing family member and obtain a death certificate in Iraq.
Missing persons in Iraq
Under Iraqi law, a missing person is considered alive until proven otherwise by the court. To obtain a legal death certificate, the family of the missing person can make an application at the Personal Status Court at their place of residence. If the family can prove the person is missing, then the court can issue a death certificate.
What are the steps to report a missing person and obtain a death certificate? There are two stages to the process:
- Missing Person Claim
1- To start with, the person’s disappearance must be reported to the nearest police station, to file a complaint and make a statement
2- The police officer will take the statement of the family member (the complainant) to the investigating judge so the judge can officially confirm the statement, meaning that the claim should now be recorded. This will cost a legal fee of around 2000 Iraqi dinars depending on the governorate
3- As a result, the person is now considered officially missing from the date of notification, and a missing person certificate will be issued.
4- A person (curator) will then be appointed by the court to look after the estate of the missing person.
- Death Certificate Claim
According to the Iraqi Personal Status Law, the family of the missing person is only able to apply for a death certificate once four years have passed since the disappearance of the person (two years if missing as a result of ISIS activity). The date of the disappearance will be when the court officially recorded the disappearance.
2- Submit supporting documents, including ID documents and the missing person certificate, that helps to prove the person is missing.
3- Bring two male witnesses or one male and two female witnesses to support the claim that the person is missing. The court may determine the person’s death if:
- There is conclusive evidence of the death.
- Four years have passed since the announcement of his loss (two years if related to ISIS activity)
- Considering the circumstances surrounding the disappearance, it can be reasonably assumed that the person is dead.
4- If the court finds enough evidence to determine the person as dead, the day of the court judgment shall be the date of the missing person's death, according to the text of Article (95) of the Juvenile Care Law
Examples of Missing Person’s Death Claim Form (for the wife):
Mr. Judge of the Personal Status Court in ............... respected
The plaintiff / ................. according to her curatorship for the husband The defendant / ............... the director of minors' care, in addition to his position
The lawsuit side: My lost husband..................... more than four years ago (or two years in case of ISIS-related incidents) and his loss was announced by your esteemed court on ....... ......... without indicating his life or death, so when presented, ask your esteemed court for the defendant's case to add it to his position after notifying him with a copy of the lawsuit petition and its documents, setting a date for pleading in it, and judging the death of the missing above, based on the text of Article 93 of the Law Minors Care No. 78 of 1980. with respect
Is there protection for lost property?
Iraqi law protects the property of the missing person in their absence until their fate is known. If they are deceased, their property is divided between the missing persons’ heirs according to the law. Iraqi law also protects the missing person by appointing a custodian on their property, who must act in the interests of the missing person, in managing money and estate.
A wife's rights about her missing husband:
If the missing person is a husband, the wife has the right to use his estate to support her and her children. If her access to that money is blocked, then she can file a lawsuit against the missing person’s agent or legal representative. If the wife is the agent of the estate, the court has the right to determine the amount of maintenance for herself and her children. The wife also has the right to seek separation from her missing husband if he has been missing for four years according to Article 43 (4) of the Personal Status Law.
Who can provide support to families of missing persons in Iraq?
Several organizations in Iraq can provide support to report, locate or connect with missing family members. The ICMP (International Commission of Missing Persons) Reports a missing person here:
The ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross): 80022222
The IHCHR (Iraq High Commission for Human Rights):
IHCHR National Office: 07730685040
IHCHR Ramadi: 07705811414