Representatives of the Republika Srpska (RS) Family Associations of missing persons learned first hand about DNA testing by the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) in the process of identification of exhumed mortal remains of missing persons in Bosnia and Herzegovina. ICMP invited 17 members of the RS Republican Organization and Republican Board of families of detained and killed soldiers and missing civilians to visit its Identification Coordination Division (ICD) in Tuzla on Friday.The goal of the visit was to increase the level of understanding of the DNA identification process as well as to answer questions from families related to this process. ICMP analyzes bone samples from exhumed bodies and blood samples of family members of missing persons to obtain DNA profiles and to make DNA matches for eventual identification by local experts.
“The role of ICMP is only one part of the larger process, but our state of the art system is carefully devised so that even if someone wanted to have a bias it would be impossible. The dialogue that we are having here today is very important and I commend your efforts as families in pushing for this process to move forward”, said ICMP Director of Forensic Sciences, Dr Thomas Parsons, at the briefing for the families.
Nedeljko Mitrovic, president of the RS Republican Organization stated that “such meetings are very useful, since we can get immediate information from competent people in their area of expertise. We got information that we didn't have before, and based on that we will direct our future activities. This kind of meeting should be held more often. We will use this knowledge to follow up with members of the authorities to do what they are supposed do.”
The ICD is the main centre for processing of all incoming blood and bone samples and DNA matching at ICMP. ICMP teams of outreach workers are also based there, who are contacting family members from the former Yugoslavia who have not yet given blood samples. Families present today agreed to help provide additional addresses for approximately 100 additional cases, while most other cases are complete.
“I have no doubts anymore in DNA analysis. I have a much better picture that will enable me to transfer this knowledge to other family members of the missing”, said Gospava Vujinovic, member of the RS Board Banja Luka office.
In Bosnia and Herzegovina to date, ICMP has collected blood samples from nearly 65,000 relatives of missing persons, who are looking for around 22,000 people missing from the recent conflicts.