The Chief Prosecutor of the Prosecutor’s Office of BiH Mr. Goran Salihović toured the headquarters and DNA laboratory of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) in Sarajevo today. Mr. Salihović and ICMP’s Director-General Ms. Kathryne Bomberger reviewed the cooperation between the two institutions as well as the general progress and challenges in the process to locate and identify persons missing from armed conflicts in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the 1990’s.
Mr. Salihović was briefed on ICMP’s assistance to governments in the Western Balkans and worldwide in accounting for persons missing from armed conflicts, natural disasters, human rights violations and other causes. Accompanied by Ms. Bomberger, Mr. Salihović also toured ICMP’s main DNA laboratory where he was introduced to the scientific techniques of DNA identification used by ICMP to account for more than 17,500 persons in the Western Balkans, of which 14,500 were missing persons relevant to BiH.
Mr. Salihović and Ms. Bomberger discussed future efforts needed to accelerate accounting for missing persons in BiH, of which special importance was given to the continuation of the NN Working Group process to review cases of unidentified mortal remains in BiH mortuaries.
It was noted during the meeting that over 70% persons missing from Bosnia and Herzegovina have been accounted for, which is unprecedented. However, it is estimated that approximately 9,000 are still unaccounted for. Over 30,000 persons were considered missing in BiH following the armed conflicts.
Mr. Salihović was introduced to ICMP’s Online Inquiry Center, an online tool that allows domestic authorities, including the Missing Persons Institute, investigators, forensic pathologists and the prosecutors to have real-time access to information on submitted DNA reports in ICMP’s database, as well as progress on the identification of individual cases submitted to ICMP.
“I would like to thank Mr. Salihovic for visiting our international headquarters. As an organization that has been assisting the local authorities in the missing persons issue for the last 18 years, we are very grateful to the BiH Prosecutor’s Office and Mr. Salihovic for the productive initiatives he has undertaken in the past period. For example, the inventory of the 11 mortuaries across the country that was initiated by Mr. Salihovic’s office last year and involves the work of ICMP’s forensic anthropologists, has already produced results, as we have made dozens of new DNA identifications following reviews of Mostar and Nevesinje. In addition, in cooperation with MPI and the Prosecutor’s Office regarding the excavation in Tomašica, ICMP has so far made DNA matches for mortal remains of 253 persons exhumed there”, said ICMP Director General Kathryne Bomberger.
“My congratulations go to you Ms. Bomberger and the ICMP experts for their professionalism and impartiality in helping to locate and identify the missing persons in Bosnia and the region. The success of our cooperation gives me a hope that the authorities of BiH will be able to locate and identify the remaining missing persons. I often meet with families of missing persons from across the country and I am familiar with the problems in the identification of their missing relatives. My office will remain dedicated and will keep the issue of missing persons as one of our high priorities in the future”, said the Chief Prosecutor of the Prosecutor’s Office of BiH Mr. Goran Salihovic, who announced a visit to ICMP’s facility in Tuzla and the ICMP DNA laboratory in Banja Luka in the coming period.
ICMP is an international organization based in Sarajevo and established to support the Dayton Peace Agreement. ICMP is today actively involved in helping governments and other institutions in the Western Balkans and other parts of the world to address social and political issues related to missing persons and establish effective identification systems in the wake of conflict or natural disaster.