Archive for December, 2004



Norwegian Donation to Support Work of ICMP

Monday, December 20th, 2004

The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has donated 300,000 Euros to support the activities of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP), contributing to the identification of persons missing in the former Yugoslavia as a result of armed conflicts in the region.Explaining the importance of the work his country is supporting, Norwegian Ambassador to Bosnia-Herzegovina Henrik Ofstad said “This work is about truth and justice, and it will help family members who lost loved ones to know what happened to their relatives. We have to do our utmost to contribute to the identification of those who were killed in the terrible wars in this region. As we have the people and the technology to do it, nothing should prevent us helping to resolve fate of those missing persons. ICMP has done a remarkable job so far, and I wish ICMP further success in this important work.”

The Norwegian assistance is an important contribution to the peace and reconciliation process in the former Yugoslavia. The grant will be used to support different aspects of ICMP’s work, including exhumation assistance, the running of DNA laboratories, blood sample collection from family members of the missing, working with governments to develop and implement policies on missing persons, and support of family member associations.

“We are grateful for the support of the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” said Jeffrey Buenger, ICMP Director of Government Relations, when the donation was announced. “Continued high-level attention from the international community can effectively support post-conflict Governments in meeting their obligation to provide answers to families of the missing, thus contributing to the peace building process. Such support is provided by ICMP, and is only possible with help of all our donors,” he added.

ICMP activities are also supported by the Governments of the United States of America, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, and Germany, and by the European Union, the Holy See, and the Mott Foundation.

The ICMP Exhibition “Voices of the Missing” held in Novi Sad

Friday, December 17th, 2004

Human Rights Festival VIVISECT, organized by the Regional Women Initiative “Vojvođanka” from 13 to 19 December 2004, in Novi Sad, Serbia and Montenegro, featured the “Voices of the Missing” exhibition presented by the International Commission of Missing Persons (ICMP).”War conflicts in the area of former Yugoslavia - a view from the inside and outside,” was title of the first part of the festival, in which regional and international artists presented the films and photo exhibitions. The goal of the festival was to initiate a public discussion about the war in the former Yugoslavia, to point out the necessity of knowing facts regarding the war conflict, to present truth as a mosaic of different elements, which when combined give a more clear perspective on the recent past.

The International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) first organized the “Voices of the Missing” exhibition at the National Gallery of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sarajevo, in February and March 2002. It was also shown at the Memling Museum in Bruges, Belgium, in September 2003, and at the Rupe Ethnographic Museum, in Dubrovnik, Croatia, in May 2004.
Bosnian photographer Haris Memija spent three months with the families of missing persons, wanting to portray them and their stories the way media never does. The family members have shared with him their personal stories, hoping that the situation for all families of the missing will be better in the future.

Exhibition “Voices of the missing” gave visitors an opportunity to face the past and find out the destinies of the missing, and hear the life stories of those who lost their loved ones during the war.

“We deal so often in large numbers - how many thousands are missing, how many we have helped to identify - in such a large scale that it is hard to convey the personal agony of the missing persons issue,” said Doune Porter, ICMP Head of Communications. “The exhibition ‘Voices of the Missing’, which ICMP is honoured to have been invited to show at VIVISECT, takes us into the lives of family members of ten missing persons, giving us a glimpse of the anguish behind every missing persons statistic.”

The visitors had a chance to see exhibitions of the documentary photographs from other authors as well, participate in the panel discussions on human rights topics, and see the films and works of other authors who promote human rights.

The organiser’s intention was to provide the visitors with a possibility to see the works of regional and international artists at the same place, and therefore give an opportunity for achieving the consensus on relevant facts regarding the recent war conflicts and war crimes.

Families Consulted on Legal Changes in Missing Persons Issue

Monday, December 13th, 2004

At a conference organized by the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) Friday, December 10, 2004, representatives of the Council of Ministers told family members of missing persons from across Bosnia-Herzegovina that their opinions would be taken into consideration in the establishment of a state-level Missing Persons Institute. The one-day conference, held in Sarajevo on Human Rights day to underline that resolution of the fate of missing persons is a human rights issue, was organized by ICMP to inform and consult with family members about implications of the adoption of the Law on Missing Persons and progress on the Missing Persons Institute (MPI).Representatives of the Families’ Associations attending the conference reiterated their desire to be active participants in resolving the fate of their loved ones and in the work of the Missing Persons Institute, but raised questions about regional representation within BiH of the Missing Persons Institute. They said they hoped for full implementation of the Law on Missing Persons, but were concerned about Government accountability on the missing persons issue and about how support for families’ associations and their members would be provided under the Law on Missing Persons. However, all participants agreed that implementation of the Law should start as soon as possible.

ICMP officials said there had been a great deal of progress, particularly by the Government of Bosnia-Herzegovina, in efforts to address the missing persons issue on the state-level, with equal treatment for all cases. Negotiations by a working group on the drafting of a Protocol on the state-level MPI are in their final stages, delegates at the conference were told. The Protocol will cover the entry of the Government of Bosnia-Herzegovina as a co-founder of the Missing Persons Institute.

“ICMP has been working with the Government for a very long time, and we have established a relationship of close cooperation over the years,” said Kathryne Bomberger, ICMP Chief of Staff. “Exhumations are done in a manner that is increasingly productive, with higher numbers of remains exhumed year after year. Increased political will and financial support from governments is now being provided, which is the first step towards a sustainable process.”

Maksim Stanisic, Head of Department in the Ministry for Human Rights and Refugees, said the creation of MPI was a significant step forward. “MPI will provide a framework for the joint work of different institutions that were separated until now, and will enable productive work in the process of searching for missing persons,” he said.

It was agreed at the conference that copies of the draft protocol on the Missing Persons Institute would be distributed to Family Associations and that their written comments would be taken into consideration by the official MPI Protocol Working Group before submission of the final version of the Protocol to Parliament.