At a meeting today chaired by the BiH Council of Ministers, Ministry for Human Rights and Refugees, the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) joined the family associations of missing persons and the acting Directors of the Missing Persons Institute of Bosnia and Herzegovina (MPI) in making an urgent appeal to the Council of Ministers to appoint the Steering and Supervisory Boards of the MPI at the next government session, thus ensuring that the MPI would be functional before the end of this year.At today’s meeting, relatives of missing persons were upset at the slow pace of the government in making appointments to the MPI management bodies, which has delayed the functioning of MPI. In addition, they underlined that the implementation of the Law on Missing Persons has been very slow, especially at the lower levels of government. Apart from addressing the rights of families of missing persons, the Law outlines the responsibilities of the authorities at all levels in BiH in resolving the fate at the missing. Family members were also frustrated with the fact that the Fund for Missing Persons has not yet been created.
“The slow pace of the government is undermining the good will of the families of the missing. Everyday family members are dying without information forthcoming on the fate of their loved ones”, one family member exclaimed bitterly during the meeting. “We are urging BiH authorities to respect the human rights of its citizens”, said another. “Failure by the government to address this human rights issue will undermine its creditability among citizens. The responsibility is not only on current ministers but their political parties as well”.
There have been approximately 14 decisions from the BiH Constitutional Court ordering the functioning of the MPI, as well as strong recommendations from the UN Committee Against Torture and the UN Human Rights Committee to ensure that MPI, as well as the Fund for Support to Families of the Missing, are fully implemented.
During the meeting, the ICMP General Director, members of the Ministry and the Acting Directors of the MPI provided the family members with the overview of planed activities in 2007 that are pending the functioning of the Institute. As provided for in the BiH Law on Missing Persons, the MPI will collect, process and systematize information on missing persons and individual and mass graves, and develop and maintain a unique Central Evidentiary List of Missing (CEN), which will contain fully verified information about all missing persons.
After signing the Agreement with the Council of Ministers on assuming the role of co-founders of MPI in August 2005, the ICMP has been working persistently with the authorities on implementation of the agreement, including selection of management bodies of the Institute. While the Board of Directors was named in March, the appointment of the Steering and Supervisory Boards awaits confirmation by the Council of Ministers following on the recommendations of the Selection Committee. MPI is an independent body at the state level tasked to search for all missing in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) regardless of their national, ethnic or religious background.