17 April 2015: Participants at a Roundtable organized by ICMP in Banja Luka today stressed the need to continue the joint effort to account for the missing in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Bosnia and Herzegovina leads the world in the ratio of missing persons it has been able to account for following the conflict of the 1990s: more than 70 percent – around 23,000 of roughly 31,500 reported missing.
This has been possible because the work of accounting for the missing has been undertaken in a coordinated, systematic and science-based manner.
Since ICMP first pioneered the use of DNA in 2001, almost 15,000 DNA identifications have been made in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The sophisticated database technology developed by ICMP to match blood samples given by family members with DNA extracted from human remains is now used all over the world. In addition to a dedicated software program, this technology has required a major outreach effort to collect blood samples. It succeeded in Bosnia and Herzegovina because the authorities in every part of the country cooperated in a joint effort.
ICMP and other organizations are now engaged in a thorough review of all 11 mortuaries in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The review process undertaken by the NN (unidentified) Working Group began in 2013, following the engagement of the Prosecutor’s Office. To date, three mortuaries have been reviewed: Sutina, Nevesinje and Gorazde. The inspection teams, currently working at the mortuaries in Visoko and the Commemorative Center Tuzla are making good progress, and are scheduled to complete a review of all the mortuaries in the country, including Banja Luka and Lukavica, by the middle of 2016.
Participants in today’s roundtable in Banja Luka stressed the need to support the principal agency with legal responsibility for coordinating all efforts to account for the missing, the BiH Missing Persons Institute (MPI). Ensuring continued support for the MPI I order to maintain the effort to account for the 8,000 individuals who are still missing is among the recommendations in the BiH Stocktaking Report, published by ICMP in December, which describes two decades of efforts to account for the missing.
Participants agreed that implementing these recommendations is key to helping families of the missing secure the support they are entitled to – something that ICMP and other agencies will continue to lobby for.