A Joint Effort to Account for the Missing

Banja Luka RT participants discussing about ICMP's Stocktaking Report
Banja Luka RT participants discussing about ICMP's Stocktaking Report

Participants at a Roundtable organized by ICMP in Banja Luka today stressed the need to continue the joint effort to account for the missing in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Bosnia and Herzegovina leads the world in the ratio of missing persons it has been able to account for following the conflict of the 1990s: more than 70 percent – around 23,000 of roughly 31,500 reported missing.

This has been possible because the work of accounting for the missing has been undertaken in a coordinated, systematic and science-based manner.

Since ICMP first pioneered the use of DNA in 2001, almost 15,000 DNA identifications have been made in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The sophisticated database technology developed by ICMP to match blood samples given by family members with DNA extracted from human remains is now used all over the world. In addition to a dedicated software program, this technology has required a major outreach effort to…

ICMP International Treaty to Come into Force

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ICMP is pleased to announce that the UK joins Sweden in ratifying the ICMP Framework Agreement.  With this ratification, the treaty will come into force in 30 days.  The Agreement on the Status and Functions of the ICMP was signed in Brussels on 15 December by the Netherlands, United Kingdom, Belgium, Luxembourg and Sweden.  The Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg will ratify the treaty during the year.

The Agreement constitutes ICMP as a treaty-based international organization with its own system of governance and international capacities. It provides for a new organizational structure, including a Board of Commissioners as its principal organ and a Conference of State Parties.

“ICMP has now taken a major step forward in meeting the global challenge of addressing the issue of missing persons from conflict, human rights abuses, disasters, organized crime, migration and other causes,” said ICMP Director-General Kathryne Bomberger.

The Framework Agreement stipulates that ICMP will establish its…

Srebrenica Mayor Visits ICMP

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Srebrenica Mayor Camil Durakovic and ICMP Director-General Kathryne Bomberger met today at ICMP’s headquarters in Sarajevo. Mayor Durakovic briefed Director-General Bomberger on arrangements for the ceremony to mark the 20th anniversary of the Srebrenica Massacre on 11 July.

Director-General Bomberger noted that, since its inception in 1996, ICMP has been actively involved in the identification of the missing from Srebrenica; it played a key role in setting up the Potocari Memorial Center and it has worked continuously with families to help them find their loved ones and to ensure that they are able to assert their rights under the law.

Mayor Durakovic stressed the importance of the anniversary as a means of telling the truth of what took place at Srebrenica. He added that efforts must continue in order to ensure that the roughly 1,000 victims who are still missing from Srebrenica are accounted for.

 

Maintain Public and Political Focus on the Effort to Find Those Who Are Still Missing

ICMP Director General Kathryne Bomberger
ICMP Director General Kathryne Bomberger

 

Oslobodjenje, 21 March 2015

Interview

You recently met with Mr. Mladen Ivanic, after which the public statement noted that you shared the view that we need to find a solution and speed up the stalled process of tracing and identifying the missing. Is this one of your regular meetings with members of the Presidency, or is there a special reason?

I met with Chairman of the Presidency Ivanic on 24 February to brief him on the progress that has been made by Bosnia and Herzegovina and other countries in the region in addressing the issue of missing persons. Mr. Ivanic has on many occasions and in different capacities helped the process of accounting for the missing and I wanted to ask for his continued support for an effective, transparent and non-discriminatory effort and alert the Presidency to some of the pressing issues currently affecting this effort.

It…

Gender and the missing

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Bojana Djokanovic examines the different ways in which gender perspectives of enforced disappearance have an impact on women.

When faced with the disappearance of a missing loved one, in addition to emotional pain and the psychological anguish of not knowing the fate of a missing relative, women have to deal with the social, economic, legal and familial implications of these disappearances – and deal with these issues in circumstances that are often highly discriminatory.

Article 2 of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced

Disappearance (ICCPED) defines enforced disappearance as “…the arrest, detention, abduction or any other form of deprivation of liberty by agents of the State or by persons or groups of persons acting with the authorization, support or acquiescence of the State, followed by a refusal to acknowledge the deprivation of liberty or by concealment of the fate or whereabouts of the disappeared person, which place…

Searching for the Missing is a Responsibility of Governments

Town Hall Meeting in Sarajevo
Town Hall Meeting in Sarajevo

During the month of March, ICMP organized roundtables in Tuzla, Mostar, and Sarajevo to discuss ways of implementing recommendations in the BiH Stocktaking Report. The report, published by ICMP in December, describes two decades of efforts to account for the missing and examines specific issues affecting communities in every part of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The roundtables brought together representatives of family associations and the authorities as well as academic and legal experts.

Key recommendations in the Stocktaking Report include:

  • Bosnia and Herzegovina must remain vigilant in accounting for the remaining 8,000 persons missing from the conflict by ensuring that its institutions, including the Missing Persons Institute and the BIH Prosecutor’s Office remain strong and engaged;
  • Bosnia must fully implement the Law on Missing Persons, which provides for the Central Records on Missing Persons (CEN), as well as for a Fund benefiting the families of the missing;
  • Bosnia should explore new approaches to locating gravesites,…

Missing Persons and Mediterranean Migration

Tens of thousands of asylum seekers risk their lives every year to reach Europe.
Tens of thousands of asylum seekers risk their lives every year to reach Europe.

In the first two months of 2015 almost 8,000 people arrived in Italy following the dangerous sea crossing from North Africa. This figure was dramatically higher than the one recorded in the same period in 2014, and the number of people who did not complete the crossing was dramatically higher too. In the first two months of 2014, 15 would-be illegal immigrants lost their lives in the Mediterranean. Close to 600 are believed to have perished in January and February this year.

There is no mystery as to why more and more people are following what is now the world’s most dangerous migration route – and why so many are dying in the attempt.

Fighting in Syria, Iraq, Libya and parts of sub-Saharan Africa, including Congo and Chad, has caused millions to seek asylum, first in neighboring countries and then in Europe – and in the case of Libya,…

The Right to the Truth

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Participants at a Roundtable organized by ICMP in Sarajevo today highlighted the underlying fact that accounting for the missing in Bosnia and Herzegovina is the responsibility of the authorities.

The BiH Law on Missing Persons, and the Declaration signed by Western Balkans leaders in Mostar last summer assert the fundamental obligation of the state to address the issue of missing persons, and to ensure that the rights of family members are upheld and that survivors and civil society have access to information and a proper investigation.

Officials at every level of government are obliged to cooperate – fully and effectively – in accounting for the missing, whatever their ethnicity, whatever the circumstances of their disappearance.

A key way of doing this is to consolidate, review and verify records of the missing. The BiH authorities created the Central Evidentiary List of the Missing (CEN) in 2011. However, only around half of the more…

The Extraordinary Promise Of Next Generation DNA Sequencing

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The Human Identification Solutions Conference organized by Life Technologies in Madrid at the beginning of March highlighted the new capabilities made possible by Next Generation DNA Sequencing (also known as Massively Parallel Sequencing). With Next Gen techniques, the cost of sequencing DNA in medical and academic work has been slashed and progress is being made toward routine accessibility and widespread use within three to five years.

Conference presentations covered the development of new genetic “marker” systems for human identification, and their incorporation in robust, commercially available tests. Using modifications to standard DNA profiling methods, new systems for quantification and typing of DNA permit many more loci to be tested simultaneously, with even higher levels of sensitivity on trace or degraded samples. DNA “lineage markers” such as mitochondrial DNA (which follow maternal lineages) and the Y-chromosome (which follows paternal lineages) were discussed, with, among other things, attention given to new…

Implement the Law on Missing Persons

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The authorities must implement the BiH Law on Missing Persons fully and as a matter of urgency, participants at a roundtable in Mostar agreed today.

The roundtable, organized by the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP), brought together representatives of family associations and the authorities as well as academic and legal experts to discuss ways of increasing the effectiveness of efforts to account for the missing.

The BiH Law on Missing Persons was enacted at the end of 2004, providing for the establishment of the Missing Persons Institute (MPI) to coordinate the search for the missing, the establishment of the Central Records of Missing Persons, and the establishment of a Fund to ensure that families of the missing receive necessary financial support. The Law also prescribes procedures for memorials.

The MPI was launched in 2005 and became fully operational in 2008.  The Central Records were created in 2011, but only half of…