The Hague, 25 April 2022 – Today, as a part of his official visit to the Netherlands, the Chairman of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Šefik Džaferović, visited the Headquarters and DNA laboratory of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) and met with ICMP Director-General Kathryne Bomberger.
Ms. Bomberger and Mr. Džaferović discussed ongoing efforts to account for the 7,000 persons who are still missing from the conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina during the 1990s.
“In the last 25 years, with ICMP assistance and through the pioneering use of DNA, the authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina have been able to account for 75 percent of the 30,000 persons who were reported missing from the conflict,” Ms Bomberger said. “This is a ratio that has not been equaled in any other post-conflict country.”
She said the process has enabled families of the missing “to secure their rights to truth and justice” and “has laid the foundations for an honest reckoning, helping to uncover the truth about war crimes.”
Since 1996, ICMP has played a central role in helping to develop Bosnia and Herzegovina’s institutional capacity to address the issue of missing persons in a non-discriminatory manner, crafting legislation to safeguard the rights of families, introducing systematic forensic methods, including the use of DNA, supporting a rule of law-based process that has made it possible to present evidence in domestic courts and the ICTY, and facilitating the active engagement of families of the missing.
Today, ICMP continues to support the BIH authorities, aiding the process of documenting mass and clandestine graves, making DNA-based identifications and matching data so that cases can be closed, the identity of missing persons can be linked to crime scenes, and evidence can be submitted to courts.
Governments in the Western Balkans are working together formally in the regional Missing Persons Group to locate and identify more than 11,000 persons who are still missing. In July 2018 in London, leaders of the countries in the region and EU member states participating in the Berlin Process signed a Joint Declaration, which, among other things, reiterates their commitment to supporting efforts to account for those who are still missing. In November 2018 at ICMP’s Headquarters in The Hague, representatives of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Montenegro and Serbia signed a Framework Plan formally undertaking to work together in the Missing Persons Group.
ICMP is a treaty-based intergovernmental organization with Headquarters in The Hague, the Netherlands. Its mandate is to secure the cooperation of governments and others in locating missing persons from conflict, human rights abuses, disasters, organized crime, irregular migration and other causes and to assist them in doing so. It is tasked exclusively to work on the issue of missing persons.