Archive for November, 2006

ICMP Assistance to Serbia

Tuesday, November 28th, 2006

The International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) assisted in the excavation of 62 potential victims from the conflicts in the regions of the former Yugoslavia. The bodies were originally found in the Danube and Sava rivers after floating down from Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Republic of Croatia during the conflicts in early nineties and were buried as unidentified in Belgrade cemeteries.The exhumations, which took place at the Nova Bežanija and Orlovača cemeteries in Belgrade, started on 21 November under the supervision of the Serbian government’s Commission on Missing Persons, with the additional presence of representatives from the government commissions on missing persons from Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Republic of Croatia.

ICMP will take bone samples from the exhumed mortal remains in an effort to assist in the identification by using DNA. Reserve specimens were also taken by Serbian and Croatian authorities. ICMP introduced DNA as primary tool in identification of missing persons in this region, demonstrating success on a massive scale.

ICMP will extract DNA profiles from the bone samples and enter them into the ICMP DNA profile computer database. Using its matching software ICMP will compare them with existing DNA profiles previously extracted from blood samples given by surviving family members. If there is a DNA match, ICMP will submit a DNA match report to the court-appointed forensic expert, who will make the final identification.

To date ICMP has assisted the Government of Serbia in recovering and identifying approximately 1,100 mortal remains found on the territory of Serbia. Of these, around 800 were persons missing from the 1999 Kosovo conflict and approximately 300 missing from the earlier conflicts with Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. ICMP has collected over 82,000 blood samples and has assisted in making over 10,000 identifications of persons missing from the conflicts in the Western Balkans using DNA.

Regional Conference Appeal to Authorities: We Can Achieve More Together

Saturday, November 25th, 2006

Fifteen years after the outbreak of conflicts in the former Yugoslavia family members of missing persons from all sides are united in their appeal to Governments to deliver answers about the fate of their missing relatives. They announced their recommendations at the close of the three-day Ninth Regional Networking Conference on the missing persons issue organized by the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) in Brčko.This and previous regional conferences provide a much-needed opportunity for participants to exchange experiences, identify common problems, and to jointly define priorities in order to speed up the process of tracing for missing persons. More than 60 representatives of associations of families of missing persons and relevant government institutions from the Republic of Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, and UN-Administered Kosovo, as well as ICMP and ICRC representatives discussed three critical themes - improving the process of exhumations, identifications, and rights of surviving family members of the missing.

Government authorities have an obligation to provide answers about the fate of their missing citizens. Members of the Bosnia and Herzegovina Presidency Željko Komšić and Haris Silajdžić participated in the conference and emphasized the importance of facing the truth before being able to build a better future.

Association representatives believe that resolving the issue of missing persons should be a pre-condition for European integration of this region. Family members will continue to exert pressure on the highest-level political leaders in the region to do everything in their power to enable release of information and to speed up the process of resolving this important regional human rights issue.

Association representatives re-affirmed that regional coordination and sincere dialogue is needed on all levels. “These families have the same problems and the same goals. ICMP supports the efforts of families of the missing to join together, to support each other, and to demand truth and justice, regardless of their religious, national, or ethnic origin. We will continue to support the work of the Regional Coordination Board”, said Asta Zinbo, Director of Civil Society Initiatives.

Brcko District authorities have demonstrated their full commitment to addressing the missing persons issue through their participation and financial contribution to the conference, and hosting the visit of conference delegates from the region to the ongoing exhumation in Brcko.

Regional Conference on Missing Persons in Brčko

Friday, November 24th, 2006

Representatives of governments from the former Yugoslavia and representatives of families of missing persons gathered at conference organized by the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) in Brčko today. The conference is forum for families to ask government representatives questions regarding the process of exhumations, identifications and rights of surviving family members of the missing. Members of the Bosnia and Herzegovina Presidency opened the conference and visited a recently opened mass grave in Brčko where ICMP forensic anthropologists and archeologists are providing assistance to local expert teams. (more…)