In talks with International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) Chairman James Kimsey this morning, the Chairman of the Council of Ministers, Adnan Terzić, and entity Prime Ministers Ahmet Hadžipašić and Pero Bukejlović, as well as the Mayor of the Brčko District, Mirsad Đapo, agreed on the Protocol to establish the Missing Persons Institute (MPI) as a State-level institution.At a press conference following the meeting, Mr. Kimsey, who is on a two-day visit to Bosnia-Herzegovina, told reporters that following intensive and successful deliberations with the governments, and with the full support of the families of the missing, the Protocol simply awaited final approval from the Council of Ministers. “I have a guarantee from Mr. Terzic that he will fast-track this procedure”, said Mr. Kimsey.
At a meeting later in the morning with the Chairman of the BiH Joint Presidency, His Excellency Borislav Paravac, Mr. Kimsey thanked Mr. Pavarac for supporting the implementation of the MPI at the level of the State.
Although the MPI was originally founded by ICMP in the year 2000, in June 2003 the Members of the Presidency voted unanimously to invite the Council of Ministers to create a Protocol that would enable to the CoM to become a co-founder of MPI along with ICMP.
When MPI becomes a State-level institution, it will take over the mandate of the two current entity missing persons structures. It will provide a sustainable BiH mechanism to address the issue of the missing, regardless of their ethnic, religious or national origin.
Because of its neutral role, Mr. Kimsey, told reporters, the MPI will be independent enough from the State and Entity Governments that one of its functions will be to advocate for the release of information concerning the fate of missing persons, thus taking on many of the functions of a truth commission.
The State-level MPI will include an advisory board of family representatives of missing persons and a steering board of eminent individuals from the BiH government and civil society, allowing for the active involvement of civil society, especially victims groups; it will be the central repository for all data and records relevant to missing persons; its mandate includes engagement in commemoration, truth-seeking and raising awareness of the missing persons issue; and it will have operational capacities to investigate the truth concerning the fate of the missing.
“Therefore,” said Mr. Kimsey, “As Bosnian society debates the need for a truth commission, it should consider that it may already be on the way to having one.”