Regional Conference Appeal to Authorities: We Can Achieve More Together

Fifteen years after the outbreak of conflicts in the former Yugoslavia family members of missing persons from all sides are united in their appeal to Governments to deliver answers about the fate of their missing relatives. They announced their recommendations at the close of the three-day Ninth Regional Networking Conference on the missing persons issue organized by the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) in Brčko.This and previous regional conferences provide a much-needed opportunity for participants to exchange experiences, identify common problems, and to jointly define priorities in order to speed up the process of tracing for missing persons. More than 60 representatives of associations of families of missing persons and relevant government institutions from the Republic of Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, and UN-Administered Kosovo, as well as ICMP and ICRC representatives discussed three critical themes – improving the process of exhumations, identifications, and rights of surviving family members of the missing.

Government authorities have an obligation to provide answers about the fate of their missing citizens. Members of the Bosnia and Herzegovina Presidency Željko Komšić and Haris Silajdžić participated in the conference and emphasized the importance of facing the truth before being able to build a better future.

Association representatives believe that resolving the issue of missing persons should be a pre-condition for European integration of this region. Family members will continue to exert pressure on the highest-level political leaders in the region to do everything in their power to enable release of information and to speed up the process of resolving this important regional human rights issue.

Association representatives re-affirmed that regional coordination and sincere dialogue is needed on all levels. “These families have the same problems and the same goals. ICMP supports the efforts of families of the missing to join together, to support each other, and to demand truth and justice, regardless of their religious, national, or ethnic origin. We will continue to support the work of the Regional Coordination Board”, said Asta Zinbo, Director of Civil Society Initiatives.

Brcko District authorities have demonstrated their full commitment to addressing the missing persons issue through their participation and financial contribution to the conference, and hosting the visit of conference delegates from the region to the ongoing exhumation in Brcko.