FALKLAND ISLANDS GOVERNMENT VISIT TO THE INTERNATIONAL COMMITTEE OF THE RED CROSS
Members of the Public will be aware that 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 former combatants buried at Darwin. Our Government has been closely consulted by the UK Government on this, though we have received no direct request from GoA.
FIG has always made clear that it remains committed to its humanitarian obligations and extends its sympathy to the families of those who lost their lives.
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.
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 will therefore meet with the President of the ICRC, Mr. Peter Maurer, next week 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 a) their activities on this project to date; and b) how they can gain the confidence of Falkland Islanders 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.