Yearly Archives: 2015

Searching for the Missing is a Responsibility of Governments

Town Hall Meeting in Sarajevo

During the month of March, ICMP organized roundtables in Tuzla, Mostar, and Sarajevo to discuss ways of implementing recommendations in the BiH Stocktaking Report. The report, published by ICMP in December, describes two decades of efforts to account for the missing and examines specific issues affecting communities in every part of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The roundtables brought together representatives of family associations and the authorities as well as academic and legal experts.

Key recommendations in the Stocktaking Report include:

  • Bosnia and Herzegovina must remain vigilant in accounting for the remaining 8,000 persons missing from the conflict by ensuring that its institutions, including the Missing Persons Institute and the BIH Prosecutor’s Office remain strong and engaged;
  • Bosnia must fully implement the Law on Missing Persons, which provides for the Central Records on Missing Persons (CEN), as well as for a Fund benefiting the families of the missing;
  • Bosnia should explore new approaches to locating gravesites,…

Missing Persons and Mediterranean Migration

Tens of thousands of asylum seekers risk their lives every year to reach Europe.

In the first two months of 2015 almost 8,000 people arrived in Italy following the dangerous sea crossing from North Africa. This figure was dramatically higher than the one recorded in the same period in 2014, and the number of people who did not complete the crossing was dramatically higher too. In the first two months of 2014, 15 would-be illegal immigrants lost their lives in the Mediterranean. Close to 600 are believed to have perished in January and February this year.

There is no mystery as to why more and more people are following what is now the world’s most dangerous migration route – and why so many are dying in the attempt.

Fighting in Syria, Iraq, Libya and parts of sub-Saharan Africa, including Congo and Chad, has caused millions to seek asylum, first in neighboring countries and then in Europe – and in the case of Libya,…

The Right to the Truth

19 March 2015: Participants at a Roundtable organized by ICMP in Sarajevo today highlighted the underlying fact that accounting for the missing in Bosnia and Herzegovina is the responsibility of the authorities.

The BiH Law on Missing Persons, and the Declaration signed by Western Balkans leaders in Mostar last summer assert the fundamental obligation of the state to address the issue of missing persons, and to ensure that the rights of family members are upheld and that survivors and civil society have access to information and a proper investigation.

Officials at every level of government are obliged to cooperate – fully and effectively – in accounting for the missing, whatever their ethnicity, whatever the circumstances of their disappearance.

A key way of doing this is to consolidate, review and verify records of the missing. The BiH authorities created the Central Evidentiary List of the Missing (CEN) in 2011. However, only around half…

The Extraordinary Promise Of Next Generation DNA Sequencing

The Human Identification Solutions Conference organized by Life Technologies in Madrid at the beginning of March highlighted the new capabilities made possible by Next Generation DNA Sequencing (also known as Massively Parallel Sequencing). With Next Gen techniques, the cost of sequencing DNA in medical and academic work has been slashed and progress is being made toward routine accessibility and widespread use within three to five years.

Conference presentations covered the development of new genetic “marker” systems for human identification, and their incorporation in robust, commercially available tests. Using modifications to standard DNA profiling methods, new systems for quantification and typing of DNA permit many more loci to be tested simultaneously, with even higher levels of sensitivity on trace or degraded samples. DNA “lineage markers” such as mitochondrial DNA (which follow maternal lineages) and the Y-chromosome (which follows paternal lineages) were discussed, with, among other things, attention given to new…

Implement the Law on Missing Persons

17 March 2015: The authorities must implement the BiH Law on Missing Persons fully and as a matter of urgency, participants at a roundtable in Mostar agreed today.

The roundtable, organized by the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP), brought together representatives of family associations and the authorities as well as academic and legal experts to discuss ways of increasing the effectiveness of efforts to account for the missing.

The BiH Law on Missing Persons was enacted at the end of 2004, providing for the establishment of the Missing Persons Institute (MPI) to coordinate the search for the missing, the establishment of the Central Records of Missing Persons, and the establishment of a Fund to ensure that families of the missing receive necessary financial support. The Law also prescribes procedures for memorials.

The MPI was launched in 2005 and became fully operational in 2008.  The Central Records were created in 2011, but…

Accounting for the missing is a fundamental requirement of justice

Alma Dzaferovic, the Head of the War Crimes Department in Tuzla Cantonal Prosecutor’s Office and a member of the BiH High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council

12 March 2015: A recent survey found that an overwhelming majority of people in Bosnia and Herzegovina (more than 80 percent) believe that accounting for the missing contributes to post-war recovery and, in the long term, reconciliation, Alma Dzaferovic, the Head of the War Crimes Department in Tuzla Cantonal Prosecutor’s Office and a member of the BiH High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council, wrote in a column that appeared in the RadioSarajevo.ba news portal this week.

“A key element in the effort to account for the missing is to recognize that prosecuting criminals and searching for their victims is not something that affects just families of the missing: it affects everyone. If criminals walk free, citizens cannot rely on the protection of the law,” she wrote. “Also – in practical terms – if criminals walk free they will not be obliged to give up whatever information they may possess regarding the…

Rule of Law is Key to Accounting for the Missing

10 March 2015: Upholding the rule of law is key to sustaining the effort to account for the missing in Bosnia and Herzegovina as the country approaches the 20th anniversary of the end of the war, participants at a roundtable in Tuzla agreed today.

The roundtable, organized by the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP), brought together representatives of family associations and the authorities as well as academic and legal experts to discuss ways of increasing the effectiveness of efforts to account for the missing.

Participants noted that prosecuting war criminals and searching for their victims is not something that affects just families of the missing: it affects everyone, because if criminals walk free, citizens cannot rely on the protection of the law, and – in practical terms – if criminals walk free they will not be obliged to give up whatever information they may possess regarding the fate of those…

Global Missing Persons Trends

Vito Manzari from Martina Franca (TA), Italy - Immigrati Lampedusa

ICMP’s Daily World News Digest  brings together news stories dealing with enforced disappearances and missing persons cases from around the world. It offers a snapshot of daily events and over a longer period it highlights key trends.

Migration and Missing Persons

In February, the number of migrants who are lost on the dangerous journey from North Africa and the Middle East to Europe was a major theme. On 9 February the BBC reported that at least 27 people died of hypothermia after being picked up near the Italian island of Lampedusa. They were part of a group of more than a hundred who were found adrift in an inflatable boat about 160 kilometres from Lampedusa. The rescue vessel did not have facilities to protect the migrants from the elements. This, and reports later in February, drew attention to the impact of the decision late last year to replace Italy’s “Mare…

Transparent and proactive effort to account for the missing

Town Hall Meeting in Sarajevo

Representatives of associations of families of missing persons, the BiH Missing Persons Institute, the BiH Prosecutor’s Office, and the BiH Ministry for Human Rights and Refugees came together in a series of Town Hall meetings held throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina in February to discuss steps that must be taken in order to sustain the search for missing persons.

The meetings, organized by the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) in Tuzla (3 February), Brcko (4 February), Sarajevo (10 February), Mostar (12 February) and Banja Luka (17 February), focused on the recommendations contained in BiH, Missing Persons from the Armed Conflicts of the 1990s: A Stocktaking, published by ICMP in December 2014 The book-length Stocktaking Report brings together for the first time all of the relevant information on two decades of efforts to account for the missing. It examines specific issues in Lower Podrinje, Upper Podrinje, Herzegovina, Sarajevo, Posavina, Central Bosnia,…

Gender and Armed Conflict

2014 IDoD - Sarajevo

Bojana Djokanovic examines gender roles in conflict, the ways in which these roles are perceived, and the corresponding impact that conflict has on men and women.

 

To rebuild societies after conflict and to achieve lasting peace, it is imperative that women become active participants in decision-making.

The experiences of women in dealing with war – and with the legacy of war – differ greatly from those of men.

Customarily, men are combatants – and in most conflicts they account for the overwhelming majority of combat casualties and missing in action; historically, men are more likely than women to be in positions of political and military authority before and during conflict, and men are more likely to negotiate peace.

Women often assume the role of principal breadwinner and head of household when husbands leave home to join (or escape from) the military; and women are overwhelmingly more likely to be victims of sexual violence.

One…