The first Directors of the Missing Persons Institute (MPI) of Bosnia-Herzegovina officially took up their posts today, marking a major step forward in the search for persons missing from the country's 1992-95 conflict.The MPI is a State-level organization co-founded by the BiH Council of Ministers and the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP), which is taking over the responsibilities of the entity-level missing persons organizations – the Office of the Republika Srpska on Tracing Detained and Missing Persons and the Federation Commission on Tracing Missing Persons. There are three Directors of the MPI: Marko Jurisic and Amor Masovic, Chairmen of the Federation commission, and Milan Bogdanic, Director of the RS office on missing persons. Marko Jurisic took over today as the first MPI Chairman, a position that will rotate every eight months between the current three MPI Directors.
The official Decision appointing the three Directors was signed on Tuesday by the Chairman of the BiH Council of Ministers, Adnan Terzic, and the ICMP Chief of Staff, Kathryne Bomberger, who both underlined the importance of the MPI in resolving the country's outstanding issue of missing persons.
The MPI was inaugurated as a State-level body in August last year and work is continuing to merge the two entity bodies into the single, State-level structure. Much of the work concerns merging the recovery and identification process of the missing; staff of the entity bodies are being transferred to the MPI and an MPI State budget has been approved. Work is also underway on establishing MPI management boards, as well as an Advisory Board, which will include representatives of family members of the missing.
One of the major ongoing tasks of the MPI is to establish a single, central list of those who went missing during the conflict. This list will include all records kept by the entity-level bodies, by associations of families of the missing and by ICMP and other relevant international organizations. The central list will be subjected to a rigorous verification process that will ensure it is accurate. It will help to eliminate political manipulation of numbers of missing persons and will 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.
As a single, State-level structure, the MPI will also be able to work more efficiently than the divided entity-level bodies and will therefore help to speed up the process of resolving the fate of the missing, especially in coordination of information, said the first Chairman, Marko Jurisic, as he took over his role this morning. “The lack of quality information on individual and mass gravesites is a key problem, for example, and this problem will be reduced with all relevant government authorities helping us through the Missing Persons Institute. We expect that all State institutions, from the state intelligence agency, the police and state border services and prosecutors will be engaged in efforts to obtain information on the location of gravesites, which will speed up and help us to conclude this important work.”
“The MPI is the long-term solution to the missing persons issue in this country, for everyone, and the new Directors will work together to ensure that families, and the society at large, can finally have a sense of closure,” said ICMP's Kathryne Bomberger this morning in Sarajevo. “I congratulate the BiH authorities on the progress they have made so far in addressing this issue and I call on them to continue to support this important process.”