Monthly Archives: May 2005

ICMP Exploring Improved Methods for Locating Mass Graves

Joint teams of satellite imagery experts, geology experts and forensic archaeologists from the United Kingdom and the United States have completed a research visit to Bosnia-Herzegovina to investigate new methods of locating and mapping mass graves. The experts from Britain’s University of Birmingham and Applied Analysis Incorporated (AAI), a US private company specializing in processing satellite images, were part of a multi-disciplinary project organized and implemented by the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP). The initial research phase of the project was completed on Monday, while further analyses and cost-benefit estimates will be forthcoming.One of the most difficult aspects of finding and identifying victims of conflict or human rights abuses is often locating the graves, which have frequently been hidden by the perpetrators. In many cases in Bosnia-Herzegovina, the bodies have also been moved from one location to another in order to cover-up evidence of the crime. Most mass…

ICMP to Identify Tsunami Victims

The International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) finalized agreements today with authorities in Thailand on the identification of victims of the December 2004 South East Asian tsunami. ICMP is already analyzing bone samples sent to its headquarters in Sarajevo to obtain DNA profiles; today’s agreement means ICMP will also match the bone DNA profiles with DNA profiles of the missing.ICMP’s specialized DNA STR (short tandem repeat) Matching Software, which will be used in the identification of tsunami victims, was developed initially to assist in the identification of thousands of persons missing as a result of the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia.

Short tandem repeat DNA analysis is the most accurate method for identification of missing persons. Each person inherits a set of short tandem repeats, or DNA patterns, from their parents, with one copy coming from their mother and their other from the father.

Three weeks ago, ICMP agreed with the…

US Ambassador Douglas McElhaney Tours ICMP Facilities in Tuzla

As he completed a tour of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) forensic facilities in Tuzla today, US Ambassador to Bosnia-Herzegovina Douglas McElhaney said it was “Difficult to imagine a project more worthy of our attention.” Ambassador McElhaney toured the ICMP morgue and Identification Coordination Division (ICD) in Tuzla, and the ICMP Re-association Center in nearby Lukavac, where skeletal remains of the missing are put back together; skeletal remains were frequently separated and “commingled” when victims were reburied in secondary mass graves as the perpetrators of killings tried to hide evidence of their crimes.Using a combination of traditional anthropological work and a method whereby a limited DNA profile is generated to allow for re-association of separated body parts, the newly-established ICMP Re-association Center in Lukavac helps to ensure that more individuals are accounted for and that the process of re-association does not further delay the process of returning…

Memories of Genocide – Discussion and Photography Exhibition in Dubrovnik

An exhibition of dramatic photographs by Bosnian photographer Samir Sinanovic depicting the exhumation, identification and burial of thousands of war crimes victims in northern Bosnia launched a week-long course about war crimes and genocide for postgraduate students in the Croatian coastal town of Dubrovnik on Monday, May 16, 2005.

Students, journalists, local Croatians and some tourists drawn in by flyers promoting the event around Dubrovnik’s “old city” came to the exhibition opening.

“We must never let people forget what happened,” said course director Professor Janja Bec-Neumann at the opening. “We want our students to learn to speak out when they see evil, not just genocide, for that is only the final stage, but they must learn to recognize the very earliest stages of evil so we can help to prevent it happening again. If we forget, it would be like killing them a second time,” she said.

The photography exhibition, entitled “Remembering…

Interpol Visits ICMP to Discuss Disaster Victim Identification

A delegation of officials from Interpol, the international police organization based in Lyon, France, visited ICMP on Friday May 13, 2005, to discuss possible cooperation with the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) on Disaster Victim Identification around the world. Interpol is helping to coordinate international police efforts to identify the victims of the South East Asian tsunami disaster of last December.During their one-day visit to ICMP Sarajevo Headquarters on Friday, the Interpol officials met with ICMP Directors and DNA analysis and database experts to discuss coordination between ICMP and Interpol on tsunami victim identification.

After meeting with the Interpol officials, Kathryne Bomberger, ICMP Chief of Staff, emphasized that ICMP was ready to help identify victims however it could, “Although our mandate is to assist in the identification of persons missing as a result of conflict or human rights abuses,” she said, “We have the capability and the capacity to…

ICMP to Help Identify Tsunami Victims as a Humanitarian Measure

In response to the overwhelming problem of identification of victims of the December 2004 Asian tsunami, police from Thailand, the United Kingdom and Germany have asked the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) for assistance in the identification process using DNA.Thai Police, Scotland Yard and German Federal Police representatives brought 750 bone samples to ICMP’s Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, headquarters on Thursday (May 5, 2005). The bone samples will be analyzed within 60 days in ICMP’s DNA laboratories in Sarajevo and Tuzla, eastern Bosnia, to obtain DNA profiles. The joint delegation brought the bone samples to ICMP as prior testing performed by private DNA laboratories was not sufficiently successful.

Obtaining DNA profiles from hard tissue such as bone or teeth is more complicated than from soft tissue and as a result of its work in the identification of victims of the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia, ICMP has developed successful methods of…