Effort to Account for the Missing Must Continue

BiH Minister for Human Rights and Refugees Semiha Borovac said today that the new authorities are committed to sustaining the effort to account for the missing and implementing the recommendations in the International Commission for Missing Persons (ICMP) BiH Stocktaking Report.

Ms Borovac was speaking at the conclusion of an ICMP presentation at the BiH Parliament. She said that while Bosnia and Herzegovina is leading the world in accounting for missing persons from conflict, with over 70 percent of the 30,000 persons now accounted for, it must create a roadmap for finding the remaining 8,000 persons.

The presentation highlighted the need for more technical experts, for better coordination between the Prosecutor’s Office and the Missing Persons Institute (MPI) and for appropriate funding for the MPI.

ICMP Director-General Kathryne Bomberger said families of the missing are frustrated by the failure of successive administrations to implement the Law on Missing Persons fully. “The Law envisions a Fund for the Missing, but nearly a decade on, this fund has not been established. The Fund is designed to provide necessary assistance to families that lost their main breadwinner during the conflict, and lawmakers must surely be concerned that this assistance has never been provided.”

Ms Bomberger said the reduction of the MPI’s annual budget by half since 2008 sends “a terrible message to the 8,000 families who are still looking for their loved ones.” She called on the authorities to finalize the verification of the Central Records of missing persons, which will provide citizens with accurate and reliable information in accordance with the law.

Milutin Misic Chairman of the Board of Directors of the MPI, called on the authorities to provide greater technical, financial and political support for the work of the MPI. Seida Karabasic of the Regional Forum of Associations of Families of the Missing, said the authorities must take full responsibility for ensuring the sustainability, efficiency and independence of the MPI.

The presentation was designed to help the authorities at the highest level create a roadmap to account for the 8,000 persons still missing from the conflicts of the 1990s. It followed up on conclusions from town hall meetings and roundtables held in the first quarter of 2015 in Banja Luka, Brcko, Mostar, Zenica, Tuzla and Sarajevo, at which policymakers and representatives of families discussed ways of implementing the recommendations made in the BiH Stocktaking Report published by ICMP in December. High Representative Valentin Inzko, UK Ambassador Edward Ferguson, and Head of Cooperation at the EU Delegation Melvin Asin spoke at the presentation, reiterating the commitment of their respective organizations to the effort to account for the missing in Bosnia and Herzegovina.