Archive for ?????, 2003



ICMP announces 3,000 DNA Reports for Bosnia and Herzegovina

??????, ????? 27th, 2003

The International Commission on Missing Persons announced today, June 27rd, that it had achieved its 3,000th DNA report related to cases of missing persons in Bosnia and Hercegovina. This is a result of a dramatic increase in the rate of generating DNA reports, which produced the first successful match in November 2001. It required 11 months to produce the first 1,000 DNA reports, but as the ICMP system began to test large numbers of blood and bone samples the rate of DNA reporting has increased.It is important to realize that a DNA report is not in itself an identification, though it is an important milestone on the way. There are two basic types of DNA reports:

DNA Match Report: This is issued whenever a link is found and confirmed between the DNA profile from a bone sample and from the Family Reference Database. This Database contains the DNA profiles of all family members of the missing who have provided blood samples. This report is given to the forensic expert who submitted the original bone sample, and this expert is then responsible for combining all the evidence of identification including the DNA results, and applying for an official identification.

DNA Exclusion Report: Sometimes there is an indication of the identity of a missing person. However, there is insufficient evidence to confirm the identity without DNA testing. Many times these types of cases are a result of family recognition of clothing or other personal characteristics. These cases are referred to as Presumptive Cases and are fast-tracked through one of ICMP’s DNA laboratories. If the DNA testing discovers that the presumed identity is not correct, then an Exclusion Report is issued.

Another reason why the number of DNA reports issued does not match the number of positive identifications involves the problem of commingling. Commingling occurs when many individuals are buried together in one mass grave in such a manner that it is very difficult to determine which bones belong to which individual. As it may be impossible to decide which bones go with which body, a number of DNA samples may need to be taken in order to re-associate each set of remains and a single individual may end up being DNA tested many times.

Of the 3,000 reports announced today, 2370 are match reports, 84 are exclusions, while 550 refer to re-associations.

This is a difficult and challenging process, complicated by the lack of dental and medical records in the former Yugoslavia. Thousands of bodies have been recovered which could never be identified accurately were it not for DNA testing. As well as the 3,000 DNA reports so far issued for Bosnia and Hercegovina ICMP is performing DNA tests in Serbia, including Kosovo. In all, across the region of Former Yugoslavia, ICMP has so far produced a total of 3,601 DNA reports.

Ed Huffine, Director of the Forensic Sciences Program of the ICMP, welcomed this achievement:

“The increased rate of identifications is a combined result of the scientific capabilities of the ICMP and the support of the families. Only by working together for the common goal of identifying the missing can such positive results be achieved”

James Kimsey and HM Queen Noor Visit Bosnia and Herzegovina

????????, ????? 11th, 2003

Mr James Kimsey, Chairman of ICMP, accompanied by Her Majesty Queen Noor of Jordan, who is an ICMP commissioner, are visiting Bosnia and Herzegovina to see the work of the ICMP in action and to discuss future strategy.On Wednesday June 11 they met with the members of the BiH Joint Presidency, following a meeting with Mr Adnan Terzic, Chairman of the Council of Ministers and Mr Mirsad Kebo, Minister for Human Rights and Refugees. The theme of these meetings was the implementation of the Missing Persons Institute (MPI) which will carry on the work addressing the missing persons’ issue in BiH for the long term. Mr Kimsey thanked the members of the BiH Presidency for their support for the MPI, and asked them for a commitment that they will continue this support through the creation of a protocol for MPI so that it is adopted by Parliament and ready for signature no later than mid-July 2003. Mr Kimsey and the Commissioners and Board of ICMP hope that MPI can become operational in January 2004.

The decision to implement MPI on the level of the State was agreed upon at the June 4, 2003 of the session of the Members of the Presidency. This decision calls for ICMP (the original founder of MPI) and the Council of Ministers to become Co-founders of the MPI. It is anticipated that the MPI will assume the operational functions of the Entity Commissions on Missing Persons in 2004.

During their time in BIH, Mr Kimsey and Queen Noor will also meet representatives of associations of families of missing persons, from across BiH, and will be visiting the exhumation site at Vlasenica, where they will view the work of ICMP anthropologists (who assist at the site), the Federation Commission for Missing Persons and the courts. They will go to the Srebrenica-Potocari memorial site on June 12th, where they will lay a wreath in memory of those who lie there.

Mr Gordon Bacon, Chief of Staff for ICMP, welcomed the visit: “It is my hope that Protocol regarding the implementation of MPI on the level of the State will move forward the historic creation of a sustainable process to address the issue of the missing for the thousands of families affected by the conflicts. I urge the BiH the Council of Ministers and the BiH Parliament to move swiftly in this regard. We also welcome the opportunity for Mr Kimsey and Queen Noor to see the work of the ICMP, the entity- Commissions and the Families of the missing and to visit the new Potocari site which has become a reality since their last visit here.”