A two day conference organized by the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) and titled “The Future of the Missing Persons Process from the Kosovo Conflict” started today in Skopje, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Representatives of family associations of missing persons as well as government representatives from Serbia and Kosovo are attending, in addition to relevant experts and representatives of the international community.
The goal of the meeting is to take stock of the process of searching for persons missing from Kosovo conflict. The first day of the conference was dedicated to discussions on current situation and the progress reached in locating, recovery and identification of missing persons, legislation on missing persons, war crimes prosecutions, the incorporation of the consolidated Kosovo list of missing persons into the regional list and the functioning of domestic institutions.
Representatives of families of missing persons expressed their concern over lack of exhumations, lack of institutional support to family associations as well as inadequate communication and information exchange among the regional governments, especially when it comes to access to government archives and dossiers that could help in finding more missing persons.
“Every family member has a legal and moral right to know the fate of their missing loved one. The authorities in the region – and in particular of Serbia and Kosovo – need to provide information in their possession and to ensure a transparent process for the interest of their citizens. We also believe a special focus should be given to creating a joint regional list of missing persons that will improve the search and benefit everyone in the region. I hope that through this meeting all stakeholders – including the families – will provide their views on how to ensure a sustainable process of accounting for the missing,” said ICMP Director General Kathryne Bomberger during the opening speech of the conference.
“We highly appreciate this continuing tradition started by ICMP at their Ohrid 2007 conference. We believe this forum represents an excellent opportunity for the families affected by war consequences in Kosovo to receive answers to their questions”, said Haki Kasumi, the Coordinator of the Coordinating Council of Associations of Families of the Missing in Kosovo.
“Thanks to ICMP’s initiative, today we are in Skopje together with all family associations of missing, kidnapped and killed persons from the Kosovo and Metohija region. We hope this conference will help reveal the fates of persons who remain unaccounted for 13 years after their disappearance”, said Verica Tomanović, President of the Family Association of Missing and Kidnapped Persons from Kosovo-Metohija.
The conference continues tomorrow with round table discussions during which strategies and recommendations for the future will be elaborated.
Formed in 1996, ICMP is the only specialized international organization that addresses the issue of missing persons in all of its facets. ICMP endeavors to secure the co-operation of governments and other authorities in locating and identifying persons missing as a result of armed conflicts, other hostilities or violations of human rights and to assist them in doing so.