Western Balkans Regional Meeting Launches Database of Active Missing Persons Cases From the Armed Conflicts in the Former Yugoslavia

7 December 2017 – Today in Belgrade, ICMP convened a regional meeting to present the Database of Active Missing-Persons Cases from the Armed Conflicts in the Former Yugoslavia. The meeting brought together the Board of Directors of the Missing Persons Institute of Bosnia and Herzegovina, chairpersons of the commissions on missing persons from Kosovo, Montenegro, and Serbia, and the Assistant Minister in charge of the Directorate for Detainees and Missing Persons of Croatia.

ICMP’s regional partners in the Western Balkans expressed high praise for the Database and concluded that it will be an invaluable tool in their future work.

Since 1996, ICMP has spearheaded a regional effort that has made it possible to account for 70 percent of the 40,000 people who were missing because of the conflict in the Western Balkans. Nonetheless, there are still approximately 12,000 individuals who remain unaccounted for.

The initiative to launch a Regional Database of Active Missing Persons Cases began several years ago under the aegis of ICMP with the aim of enhancing regional cooperation among countries of the Western Balkans through the transparent sharing of data on active missing persons cases. While transparency tools facilitated the sharing of ICMP’s data and DNA results with multiple partners simultaneously in affected countries of the Western Balkans, until now there has been no mechanism by which countries could share their own data with others in a transparent manner and receive updates in real time.

“This initiative truly exemplifies the successful outcomes that can result from collaborative efforts at a regional level,” said Matthew Holliday, Head of ICMP Western Balkans Program. “We believe this shared Database will dramatically increase the prospects for accounting for a substantial number of the approximately 12,000 remaining missing persons in the region.”

This secure Database will be valuable in the search of missing persons in various ways, including:

  • Determining the accurate number of active missing persons cases in the Western Balkans region;
  • Providing a tool to identify duplicate cases (those that appear on the lists of more than one national authority);
  • Enabling project partners to open and close cases and update records in real time; and
  • Determining moot cases for bilateral discussion.

Based on strict security standards on data processing and protection, ICMP will gather and store missing persons data provided by the project partners’ national authority responsible for the search for missing persons. Access to the Database will then be granted to persons appointed by the national authorities of the participating state.

ICMP will provide ongoing technical and administrative support for the maintenance of the Database, including the creation and deployment of dedicated Database applications, hosting the Database on a central server, and assisting with data input and analysis.