Research Interests

Human Rights; Transitional Justice; Peace Building; Missing Persons; Humanitarian Exhumations; Caucasus; Russia

Background & Qualification

Mariat holds a Bachelor and Masters degree in Law from the University of Ghent in Belgium and a Masters degree in International Humanitarian Action from UCD.

Doctoral Research

Deferring human rights-humanitarian exhumations as an alternative way of dealing with enforced disappearances in Chechnya.

Research Overview

It is estimated that between 3,000 and 5,000 people have disappeared in Chechnya since the beginning of the 1999 armed conflict.  Although the likelihood of the disappeared persons being alive is remote, their relatives generally cannot accept this- the ICRC’s research assessment of 100 families, shows that the majority of those interviewed believe that their relatives are alive (78%). The absence of an official confirmation of death, as well as the absence of body means that people cannot organize funerals and go through the grieving process; instead they remain in a state of “frozen life”.

This research aims to analyse what would the possibility of humanitarian exhumations create/entail in terms of new legalities and policies in relation to addressing cases of disappearances in regions with unresolved conflict and no transitional justice mechanisms such as Chechnya. The main aim of this research is to investigate whether humanitarian exhumations can be an alternative way of dealing with the issue of missing people in Chechnya and if so, what conditions need to be fulfilled for this to happen?

Contact Details


  • Dr James Gallen