Archive for November, 2005

Senior Deputy High Representative Visits ICMP in Tuzla

Thursday, November 10th, 2005

Senior Deputy High Representative Martin Ney said he was deeply moved by the work of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) after he visited the organization’s Podrinje Identification Project in Tuzla on Thursday morning.More than 3,000 body-bags containing mortal remains recovered from grave sites associated with the 1995 fall of Srebrenica are stored at the facility. Identification of Srebrenica-related remains is difficult because of the large number of victims, the time that has passed and because the bodies were severely damaged when they were moved and re-buried in “secondary” mass graves by the perpetrators in an effort to hide evidence of the killings.

The Podrinje Identification Project, named after the River Drina basin in which Srebrenica victims were buried, was established in 1999 as a facility to store and examine the remains. When ICMP’s DNA matching has indicated the identity of a missing Srebrenica victim, the ICMP forensic pathologist conducts the ante-mortem and post-mortem data comparisons, inspects the remains and makes the final, official identification at the Podrinje Identification Project.

“Today, I witnessed first-hand the reality of the missing persons issue. Through its work in providing irrefutable evidence of identity, ICMP is giving family members the closure they deserve,” said Ambassador Ney following the visit. “It is important for everyone to face up to the truth about what happened and for the authorities to deal with the issue of the missing in a responsible manner. This is a pre-requisite for reconciliation, a process so important for this country,” he added.

So far, ICMP has identified 2,178 Srebrenica victims, enabling their families arrange a proper burial for them.

“Years of uncertainty for surviving family members are cruel and the families deserve all the help we can give. But they also need the support of the authorities, who need to commit to addressing the issue of the missing so that family members and the society as a whole can turn to the future more easily”, Ambassador Ney said.

Families of Missing Persons from Across the Former Yugoslavia to Discuss Common Issues

Tuesday, November 8th, 2005

Common problems faced by family members of all ethnic groups across the former Yugoslavia will be highlighted at the Eighth Regional Networking Conference on Missing Persons Issues, organized by the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP), from Friday, 11 November, to Sunday, 13 November, 2005 in Novi Sad, Serbia and Monte Negro.
Some 40,000 persons are believed to have gone missing in the conflicts during the 1990s in the former Yugoslavia. Approximately 20,000 are still unaccounted for. Families of missing persons, regardless of their ethnic background, are facing uncertainty over the fate of their loved ones and many practical problems as a result of their status.
ICMP advocates on behalf of family members and works with associations of family members of the missing to develop networks and provide training that will strengthen them and help them advocate on their own behalf. ICMP has been organizing Regional Conferences on Missing Persons Issues since 1998 as a forum for families from across the region to exchange information and identify common priorities. For the upcoming Eighth Regional Conference, a regional working group of representatives of associations of families of the missing was responsible for planning the conference program and will moderate the conference proceedings.
Participants will discuss ways to contribute to more effective resolution of the missing persons issue. Family Associations will underscore the critical role played by governments in addressing this important human rights issue. Other themes of the Conference discussions will include the rights of family members of the missing; obstacles to and future plans for addressing the missing persons issue; the role of associations of families of missing persons and cooperation between associations; and the status of youth and their future.
Guests are expected to include Rasim Ljajic, Minister for Human and Minority Rights of Serbia and Montenegro, Mirsad Kebo, Minister for Human Rights and Refugees of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Jadranka Kosor, Minister of the Family, Veteran Affairs and Intergenerational Solidarity of the Republic of Croatia. Representatives of government commissions on missing persons from the former Yugoslavia and other institutions that are addressing the missing persons issue will present updates on progress achieved to date and future plans. More than 75 family association representatives and other guests from the Republic of Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Montenegro, including Kosovo, and the former Yugoslav Republic of FYROM/Macedonia will participate in the Conference, which will be held at the Hotel Park, Novi Sad, Serbia and Montenegro.
ICMP has held previous regional conferences in Sarajevo (October 1998), Banja Luka (March 1999), Neum (September 1999), Mostar (March 2000), Vogošća (September/October 2000), Sarajevo (November 2001), and Sarajevo (2003).