Monthly Archives: June 2016

Two Decades of Accounting for the Missing


Twenty years ago today, at the G-7 summit in Lyon, US President Bill Clinton proposed the establishment of the International Commission on Missing Persons, ICMP. Writing in Vecernji list, Oslobodjenje and Glas Srpske on the occasion of ICMP’s 20th anniversary, Director-General Kathryne Bomberger noted that few would have believed in 1996 how much could be achieved.

“The prospects for a sustained and effective effort to account for the tens of thousands of missing people in former Yugoslavia seemed poor. Two decades on, an integrated system – combining the establishment of dedicated institutions and legislation to address the issue of the missing, a rule of law approach, engagement of the families of the missing, and modern scientific methods – has delivered extraordinary results.”

Noting that more than 70 percent of the 40,000 who were missing have been acounted for, Bomberger wrote that “in order to…

Profiles of the Missing

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As part of a series of events to mark its 20th anniversary, ICMP is organizing a major international panel discussion on the global challenge of missing persons.

This will take place

 From 14.00 to 16.00 on 8 July 2016

At the Theater aan het Spui, Foyer

Spui 187, 2511 BN, The Hague, the Netherlands

Family members who have missing  loved ones as a result of conflict, human rights abuses, disasters, organized crime, forced migration and other causes, will describe their personal experience and explain the social and political strategies they have developed in order to seek truth, justice and reparation.

The Commissioners of the International Commission on Missing Persons, Thomas Miller, Knut Vollebaek, Her Majesty Queen Noor, Wim Kok, and Alistair Burt, along with ICMP Director-General Kathryne Bomberger, will participate.

The 90-minute discussion will be moderated by the award-winning war correspondent Janine…

ICMP provides training for Kosovo forensic scientists


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By Lejla Softic

In May 2016, two experts from the Kosovo Agency on Forensics (KAF) and one expert from the Institute of Forensic Medicine (IFM) completed a two-week professional development training program at ICMP’s facilities in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The KAF is primarily a crime laboratory. It was established as an agency of the Kosovo Ministry of Internal Affairs in 2003 and has received extensive support from the International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program (ICITAP). The IFM comes under the Ministry of Justice and is responsible for managing and maintaining forensic services based on internationally recognized standards and European best practice to provide medico-legal services, teaching and support services for families of missing persons.

The two scientists from the KAF observed the workflow at ICMP’s laboratories in Tuzla, Banja Luka and Sarajevo, and they were briefed on post-mortem sample preparation, washing and grinding and…

International Day of Missing Children

Missing Children

By Bojana Djokanovic

International Missing Children’s Day (IMCD), which is observed on 25 May, is dedicated to children who have gone missing, including those who have subsequently been found. The annual commemoration was initiated in 1983 by then US President Ronald Reagan as “National Missing Children’s Day”. This followed the 1979 disappearance of a six-year-old boy, Etan Patz, on his way to school in New York City, a case that generated widespread indignation, and concern for missing children throughout the US.

After the US began highlighting the issue in this way, other countries followed suit. In 2001, 25 May was formally recognized for the first time as International Missing Children’s Day, as a result of a joint effort by the International Center for Missing and Exploited Children (ICMEC), Missing Children Europe and the European Commission.

Missing Children Europe, a European federation working…

Indonesia seeks to address legacy of 1965-66

Bojana Djokanovic examines the genesis of a new effort to address the legacy of hundreds of thousands of disappearances as a result of the events of 1965-66 in Indonesia.

In May 2016, at a meeting between the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) and Asian ambassadors in The Hague, speakers stressed that armed conflict, migration, natural and manmade disasters and crime have all contributed to the missing persons challenge in Asia – the causes of the problem are diverse. The numbers of the missing are calculated in the hundreds of thousands, and in addition to families of the victims, the issue affects society as a whole.

In Indonesia the long process of consolidating democratic institutions and fostering open debate on social and political issues has until recently circumvented the question of mass killings that took place in…

Missing Persons: a Global Challenge


In May, the ICMP and the Embassy of the United Kingdom organized a seminar in The Hague to discuss the global challenge of missing persons. The participants included diplomats and representatives of international organizations, national and local authorities. As a result of migration, conflict and political instability, natural and man-made disasters and organized crime, an alarming number of people around the world go missing every day. Lack of political will, weakened rule – of- law institutions and alienated civil society in countries around the world leads these missing and disappeared to remain unaccounted for. For example, in the Philippines, there are still 2,000 missing after Typhoon Haiyan struck in November 2013; in Iraq the numbers are astounding – between 250,000 and a million remain missing; in Colombia the numbers are believed to be anywhere from 49,000 to 79,000; as a result of…

A Coherent and Coordinated International Response

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By Kathryne Bomberger,

On 27 May, I spoke at a plenary session of the 13th Biennial Conference of the International Association of Women Judges (IAWJ). The conference was hosted in Washington DC by the US National Association of Women Judges; it brought together 900 judges from 82 countries.

In discussion with participants I was struck by the very broad consensus that now exists concerning the need for a coherent and coordinated international response to the challenge of missing persons.

Due to the link to criminal activity surrounding the circumstance in which persons go missing in the context of armed conflict, human rights abuses, organized violence, including human trafficking, as well as forced migration, during the last 30 years there has been a decisive move to address the gaps in humanitarian law in addressing the issue of the missing by embracing a rule of law…

The Search for the Missing Must Continue

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With more than 28,000 of the 40,000 persons who were missing at the end of the war accounted for, the countries of the Western Balkans have established a new and successful model for addressing the issue of missing persons, ICMP Director-General Kathryne Bomberger said today.

“The achievement in the Western Balkans has been remarkable,” Ms Bomberger said. “Few would have believed at the end of the war that so many of the missing could be located and identified. Because of this effort, tens of thousands of families have been able to end the agony of uncertainty and to assert their rights for truth and justice. But it should not be forgotten that 12,000 people have not yet been found, and work must continue at the present rate to account for those who are still missing.”

Ms Bomberger was speaking at the conclusion of…

More Bodies Found as a Result of Sensible Cooperation Among Agencies


The discovery of a mass grave in the Prijedor area this week is an example of what can be achieved when agencies coordinate their efforts and pool resources, Matthew Holliday, the Head of ICMP’s Western Balkans Program, said today.

This is the first mass grave located as a result of information collected by the Operational Working Group on Missing Persons. The Working Group was established in December last year to investigate the most complex cases, focusing on sites that have been prioritized by MPI field offices in the search for remaining mass graves in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Working Group participants include the POBiH, MPI, SIPA, the RS Centre for Investigation of War Crimes, MUP, the US Embassy, ICTY, ICMP and ICRC.

“The grave, in Hozica Kamen South of Prijedor, was found through the joint work of investigators from the BIH Prosecutor’s Office (POBIH), the Missing…