Regional Conference on the Missing Persons Issue in Brcko

Article posted on November 17, 2006

The International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) in coordination with representatives of associations of families of missing persons from the territory of the former Yugoslavia are organizing the Ninth Regional Networking Conference from 23 to 25 November 2006 in Brcko, Bosnia and Herzegovina. This event is an annual opportunity for all groups involved in tracing for missing persons to share experiences and to discuss ways of improving the process in the future. Main themes to be discussed will be exhumations, identifications and rights of surviving family members of the missing.“Representatives of families of missing persons have expressed the need to work together across national and religious lines in appealing for information from government authorities regarding the fate of their relatives,” said Kathryne Bomberger, Director General of ICMP. “The conference provides them with a forum to advocate for the release of information.” Members of the Regional Coordination Board of family associations have invited regional Prime Ministers and members of the newly elected Presidency of BiH to attend the conference.

In 2005, associations of families of missing persons from across the former Yugoslavia decided to create a Regional Coordination Board. “We must continue to help each other to find information and to ask questions to those who can give us answers” said one member.

The Government of Brcko District of Bosnia and Herzegovina has expressed its full support to addressing the missing persons issue, and has made a financial contribution to support the costs of organizing the Regional Conference in the amount of 6,000 BAM (3,068 Euro). “XXXXX” said Mirsad Đapo, Mayor of Brcko District.

A new mass grave was recently opened in Brcko District alleged to contain the remains of individuals related to events in the Brcko area from 1992. ICMP’s forensic archeologists and forensic anthropologists are assisting the relevant local expert teams with the excavation. Government delegations and conference participants will have an opportunity to visit the site on Friday, 24 November 2006. Media opportunities will be announced for 24 and 25 November 2006.

Even though many families have received answers about the fate of their loved ones to date, there are still many who are still searching. Representatives of the Regional Coordination Board agreed “We can’t allow people who are still missing to be forgotten”

Since 1998, ICMP has organized a series of eight regional conferences gathering family associations, representatives of government institutions, relevant local and international organizations and experts from this field to discuss common issues and develop joint recommendations.