ICMP Marks Daily Record of DNA Matches

The International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) yesterday achieved a daily record of 60 DNA matches between DNA profiles of bone samples taken from remains found in grave sites across the former Yugoslavia and blood samples given by family members of the missing. The previous daily record of matches between ICMP's victim and family member DNA databases was 54.Yesterday's record was due in part to a large number of bone samples delivered to ICMP from grave sites in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The bone samples were analyzed at the ICMP DNA laboratory in Sarajevo and their DNA profiles were entered into ICMP's database in Tuzla, in eastern Bosnia, where the matches were found.

DNA experts at ICMP's Identification Coordination Division in Tuzla hope that today will bring a new record number of matches: by noon today, 41 DNA matches had already been found. A DNA match on the ICMP system indicates…

1,345 Family Members Donate Blood Samples in US Campaign

In hotel conference rooms in Dallas, Texas and Atlanta, Georgia, late Wednesday evening, blood collection teams from the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) completed their North American drive to collect samples from family members of persons missing from the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia.The blood samples – just four small drops of blood collected on absorbent cards – will be analyzed to find the DNA profiles of the relatives for comparison with DNA profiles of remains found in mass graves across the former Yugoslavia in order to identify the missing. A DNA match within the ICMP system indicates identity with a certainty of at least 99.95 per cent.

During their two-week blood collection drive, ICMP teams visited 12 states in the eastern United States and the mid-west, states selected because the highest concentrations of families of persons missing from the former Yugoslavia are currently living there. Many family members…

Participation of Survivors and Families of Victims is Key for Justice

Experts on transitional justice and representatives of victims of gross human rights violations from the former Yugoslavia and across the world agreed conclusively today that civil society groups play an indispensable role providing justice for victims.The conclusions came on the final day of a three-day conference on International Models of Transitional Justice in Sarajevo, from December 8 – 10, organized by the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) and brining together experts and victims representatives from Latin America, Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East. The conference was timed so that the concluding day would take place on December 10, the International Day of Human Rights.

While conflicts and gross violations of human rights around the world differed in many ways, participants at the conference shared their experiences and found much in common. “The pain of all the victims is something they share, suffering is a common experience, and the…

All elements of transitional justice must be included

There must be a combination of approaches to providing the justice that is essential for societies in transition from periods of conflict, violence or human rights abuses, agreed participants at a conference on International Models of Transitional Justice organized by the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) today in Sarajevo. The second day of the three-day conference focused on key elements of transitional justice – criminal justice, truth seeking, reparation and institutional reform – and the application of these justice mechanisms in the former Yugoslavia.

“Criminal justice has not to date fulfilled all the requisite needs of societies in transitions,” said ICMP Government Relations Director Jeffrey Buenger at the conference. “Victims have a right to know the truth, a right to justice and right to reparations.”

Criminal justice in the form of prosecutions of indicted war criminals was an important part of the overall process, agreed conference participants, but it must…

Victims Groups Call for Compensation and Arrest of War Criminals

On the opening day of a three-day conference on International Models of Transitional Justice organized by the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) in Sarajevo on Thursday, participants discussed different approaches to providing justice for victims of conflict, genocide and human rights violations, from Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and Europe.Experts and victims’ representatives from around the world and participants from the former Yugoslavia grappled with issues that are central to the discussion of transitional justice, including issues such as peace versus justice – when arrests and trials can destabilize a fragile peace; the frequent impossibility of prosecuting all criminals in cases of mass violations of human rights; the cost of trials and the length of time it takes for prosecutions; reparations to victims; the responsibility of governments and the role of the international community; truth commissions; and the effectiveness of mechanisms of transitional justice in preventing future…

ICMP Launches Campaign to Reach Family Members of Kosovo Missing

The International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) is launching a major media campaign this week to encourage family members of persons missing as a result of the conflict in Kosovo to donate blood samples for DNA-led identifications.ICMP Chief of Staff Kathryne Bomberger unveiled ICMP's television, radio and newspaper advertisements to the media at a press conference on Sunday in Pristina. All the advertisements, as well as posters, have been produced in both Albanian and Serbian languages; they will be carried by media in Kosovo and Serbia proper from this week.

ICMP is focusing on family members of the missing in its campaign; in the television advertisements, mothers of sons who went missing during the conflict say that by giving a blood sample, they have done everything they can to find their missing sons. The central theme of the campaign is the question “Have you done everything you can?” ICMP hopes,…

Italian Contribution to ICMP DNA Laboratories

The International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) will receive a 50,000 Euro contribution from the Government of Italy. The Italian contribution is earmarked for ICMP's standard setting work in making DNA identifications and they will directly fund ICMP's DNA laboratory work. By making this contribution, Italy will join the group of countries and organizations supporting the work of ICMP, thus bringing the total number of sponsoring governments to 15.The ICMP incorporates the use of DNA as a primary tool in post-conflict identifications; this method requires the collection and profiling of DNA from blood samples donated by family members with missing relatives for matching with DNA extracted from bone samples taken from recovered mortal remains. The DNA match report generated by ICMP is given to court appointed forensic experts to make final, legal binding identifications, thus assisting governments in bringing closure to families of the missing regarding the fate of…

ICMP to Collect Blood Samples

Blood collection teams from the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) will be visiting the United States from November 29 to December 14 to collect blood samples from family members of persons missing from the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia. This visit will be the first ICMP blood collection campaign in North America and will focus on twelve states.

Out of the estimated 30,000 persons who went missing during the conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina that ended by the signing of the Dayton Peace Agreement, there still are between 15,000 to 20,000 persons to be found. ICMP will also be collecting blood samples from persons with missing relatives from other parts of the region, including from persons affected by the conflict in Kosovo.

The blood samples are needed for DNA identification of remains found in grave sites across the former Yugoslavia. Since the year 2000, ICMP has collected over 75,000 blood…

Resolving the Fate of Missing Persons: A Prerequisite for European Integration

Associations of Families of Missing Persons called today on governments in the former Yugoslavia to fulfill their responsibility to resolve the fate of persons missing as a result of the conflicts there during the 1990s and to ensure that the rights of surviving relatives are protected. At the conclusion of a three-day Regional Conference of family members of the missing in Novi Sad, northern Serbia, organized by the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP), participants expressed unity in their determination to work in partnership with all responsible bodies to resolve the missing persons issue as quickly as possible.Participants at the conference, who included family members of the missing of all main ethnic groups from Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Republic of Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro, and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, agreed to send a message to the European Commission that resolving the issue of missing persons, as well…

DNA analysis: Only Way in Identification Process

Family members of persons missing from the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia agreed today that a DNA-based identification process is the only way to identify mortal remains of missing persons recovered years after the end of hostilities. The family members of the missing, from all ethnic groups across the former Yugoslavia, were discussing the progress to date in the identification process today, on the second day of a three-day regional conference organized by the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) in Novi Sad, northern Serbia and Montenegro.Regional experts in the identification of mortal remains explained the process of identification to conference participants and the vital role played by DNA in that process. ICMP pioneered the use of DNA as the first step in identifying large numbers of persons, and has found more than 8,500 matches between mortal remains and family members of the missing in the former Yugoslavia since…