Archive for noviembre, 2005

Resolving the Fate of Missing Persons: A Prerequisite for European Integration

domingo, noviembre 13th, 2005

Associations of Families of Missing Persons called today on governments in the former Yugoslavia to fulfill their responsibility to resolve the fate of persons missing as a result of the conflicts there during the 1990s and to ensure that the rights of surviving relatives are protected. At the conclusion of a three-day Regional Conference of family members of the missing in Novi Sad, northern Serbia, organized by the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP), participants expressed unity in their determination to work in partnership with all responsible bodies to resolve the missing persons issue as quickly as possible.Participants at the conference, who included family members of the missing of all main ethnic groups from Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Republic of Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro, and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, agreed to send a message to the European Commission that resolving the issue of missing persons, as well as the prosecution of war criminals, should be a condition for entry into the European Union.

“I am proud of the progress made by families of missing persons in asserting their rights for the truth about the fate of their missing loved ones” said ICMP Chief of Staff Kathryne Bomberger, adding, “We are also pleased about the support for a State-level ministerial conference in the region to allow governments to discuss trilateral missing persons issues and the support for the Missing Persons Institute in Bosnia and Herzegovina to become fully operational.”

Addressing the media at the conclusion of the conference, family association representative Ahmet Grahic expressed satisfaction with the constructive communication between the current Government Commissions on Missing Persons, but added that “more mortal remains still need to be found.”

Participants said they left the conference feeling united in their commitment to cooperate with each other, regardless of their religious, national or ethnic background, to help each other fight for answers about the fate of their missing relatives. “If we who suffered the most can sit beside each other and discuss these issues, the government and media should too,” said family association representative Milijana Bojic. “We will continue to contribute to the process and to pressure Governments to resolve this problem faster,” said association representative Ivan Psenica, who called for more frequent communications and exchange of information between Government Commissions in the region.

Conclusions of the conference also included a recommendation for the adoption of appropriate legislation on addressing the rights of family members of the missing in each of the affected countries of the region; such legislation should include provisions for the welfare of children of missing persons. Participants also demanded that governments allocate appropriate financial and technical resources for the exhumation and identification process.

DNA analysis: Only Way in Identification Process

sbado, noviembre 12th, 2005

Family members of persons missing from the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia agreed today that a DNA-based identification process is the only way to identify mortal remains of missing persons recovered years after the end of hostilities. The family members of the missing, from all ethnic groups across the former Yugoslavia, were discussing the progress to date in the identification process today, on the second day of a three-day regional conference organized by the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) in Novi Sad, northern Serbia and Montenegro.Regional experts in the identification of mortal remains explained the process of identification to conference participants and the vital role played by DNA in that process. ICMP pioneered the use of DNA as the first step in identifying large numbers of persons, and has found more than 8,500 matches between mortal remains and family members of the missing in the former Yugoslavia since the first “blind” DNA match was found in November 2001. ICMP’s Head of DNA Laboratories, Jon Davoren, explained that ICMP has an extraordinarily high success rate of obtaining DNA profiles from bone samples, around 90%, and a 100% success rate in obtaining DNA from blood reference samples taken from relatives of the missing.

Adnan Rizvic, the Deputy Director of ICMP’s Forensic Sciences Department, explained that the rate of DNA identifications is contingent upon two elements: the process of exhumations engaged in by governments and the ability for ICMP to collect blood samples from relatives of the missing. Mr. Rizvic, and other experts, appealed to family members at the conference to urge as many family members of the missing as possible to give blood samples. “If ICMP’s collection of blood samples continues at the current rate,” he said, “We are optimistic that in a couple of years we will have most of the samples we need.”

In order to better address the rights of family members of the missing, representatives of family associations underlined the need for stronger coordination mechanisms between all stakeholders in the process, particularly the governments. In that regard, participants approved the structure and terms of reference for a multilevel Regional Coordination Body. This body would improve cooperation between all family associations, of all ethnicities, in presenting their concerns to governments, and would help in implementation of joint activities and exchange of information. It will consist of representatives from Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Croatia and Serbia and Montenegro.

Participants also approved the nominations for the six-member family association Advisory Board to the Missing Persons Institute of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

10 Years after Dayton: Governments Must Do More for Families of the Missing

viernes, noviembre 11th, 2005

Ten years after the Dayton Peace Agreement ended hostilities in the former Yugoslavia, representatives of families of persons who went missing during the conflict, from all ethnic groups, sat down with government authorities today and urged them to do more to release information on the fate of their loved ones.The International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) is hosting this three-day conference in Novi Sad, in northern Serbia and Montenegro, to facilitate dialogue between regional government officials, representatives of the international community and missing persons family associations.

On the first day of the conference, Rasim Ljajic, the Minister for Human and Minority Rights of Serbia and Montenegro, announced that his Government would draft a law designed to address the issue of missing persons. This law, he said, would be based on the model of the Law on Missing Persons that was adopted in Bosnia-Herzegovina in 2004. The Law gives missing persons’ families the right to know the fate of their missing and rights to social and financial support.

Other participants on the first day included Mirsad Kebo, Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Minister for Human Rights and Refugees, Ivan Grujic on behalf of Jadranka Kosor, Croatian Minister for Families, Veterans and Intergenerational Solidarity, and Marianne Gasser, Head of the International Committee of Red Cross Delegation in Bosnia-Herzegovina. ICMP Chief of Staff Kathryne Bomberger hosted the meeting, which was chaired by representatives of family associations.

“The issue of persons missing from the conflicts in the regions of South Eastern Europe remains one of the biggest human rights issues facing the area today,” said Kathryne Bomberger after the meetings, “And both the Government officials and family associations agreed that although there has been progress, there is much more work that still needs to be done”,

All sides noted the positive development in Bosnia-Herzegovina of the establishment this August of the Missing Persons Institute as a State-level institution. However, they noted, that although the Law on Missing in Bosnia-Herzegovina had been adopted a year ago, it had still not yet been fully implemented. Family association members called for such legislation to be adopted, and implemented, across the region. They also stressed the need for compensation to the families of missing persons.

Reminding Governments of their duty to address the missing persons issue, Semina Alekic of the Union of Bosniak Associations of Missing Persons’ Families said that “Even the worst truth is better than the agony of uncertainty”.

There also appears to be growing momentum towards the holding of a regional ministerial-level conference on missing persons as state-level processes make progress on trilateral issues facing Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia and Serbia and Montenegro.