By appointing its members to the Steering Board of the Missing Persons Institute for Bosnia and Herzegovina (MPI) at today’s session, the Council of Ministers overcame the final administrative hurdle that would allow the MPI to begin functioning.As the co-founder of the MPI, the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) welcomes today’s decision and has agreed with the Council of Ministers on the appointment of the top candidates who will now comprise of the 6 member management body for the Institute.
“While the task of creating a functioning MPI has been challenging, I think the years of consultations with the relatives of the missing, the state end entity governments and the District of Brcko will result in a stronger and sustainable structure for the citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina,” said Kathryne Bomberger, Director-General of ICMP.
The first important task of MPI is to establish a single, central record that would include a list of those who went missing during the conflict. This database will include the records of the Federation Commission on Missing Persons, the Republika Srpska Office on Missing Persons, as well as the relevant materials and documents of the ICMP, ICRC, other relevant international organizations and associations of families of the missing. The central list will be subjected to a rigorous verification process that will ensure its accuracy. The creation of a unified list of missing persons from the conflict will not only ensure that governments provide accurate information regarding numbers of missing, but it will also guarantee that all families of missing persons have an equal right to know the fate of their relatives regardless of their ethnic or religious background.
The commencement of work of the MPI brings the Law on Missing Persons, which was adopted in November 2004, one step closer to implementation. The Law safeguards the right of families to know the fate of a missing loved one and to assert their rights for effective domestic remedies. The Law also stipulates the establishment of the Fund for Support for Missing Persons Families. The Fund will secure financial means for realization of the rights of the relatives of missing persons, including support to their associations, and marking of exhumations and burial sites.
“We expect from the authorities on all levels not to delay the establishment of the Fund, as many of the family members of missing persons live on the edge of the poverty line. That is the next step in the implementation of the Law. Bosnia and Herzegovina needs to show that the missing persons are not forgotten,” said Bomberger.