31 July 2015: Following the signing of a grant agreement with the EU today, International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) will receive support for its program in Kosovo. ICMP has been providing assistance in locating and identifying missing persons from the Kosovo conflict since 1999. The EU grant, which totals 400,000 Euro, will help enhance ICMP’s efforts.
ICMP has been working to address the issue of persons missing as a consequence of the Kosovo conflict since 1999. Since 2003, ICMP has been assisting Kosovo through DNA-based identifications, first with UNMIK and since December 2008 with EULEX Department of Forensic Medicine. ICMP has also assisted the Government of Serbia since 2001, in locating, recovering and identifying the missing. ICMP has empowered several dozens of associations of families of missing persons to claim their right to truth and justice and to lobby the authorities to fulfill their obligations to account for the missing. ICMP has been instrumental in using DNA to help identify 2,519 of the estimated 4,500 missing from the conflict in Kosovo.
In 2010 ICMP published a Stocktaking Report on the search for the missing in Kosovo, describing in detail what had been done until then and recommending steps that should be taken in order to ensure that the effort to account for those still missing would be expedited. Addressing the issue of misidentifications made prior to the introduction of DNA testing in 2001 will be key to carrying the process forward. As many as 2,000 missing persons cases were closed without the use of DNA prior to ICMP’s assistance in 2003. In its 2010 Stocktaking report on Kosovo, ICMP noted that the rate of location and recovery of mortal remains has declined dramatically since 2006.
The EU support will allow ICMP to continue to help the authorities take responsibility for the search for the missing. ICMP will
- Assist in efforts to identify victims missing from the conflict;
- Produce a guide for families of the missing regarding the work of the relevant local institutions and the legal process of accessing rights Institutions and Legal Framework for Accounting for Missing Persons in Kosovo for families of the missing;
- Update ICMP’s 2010 Stocktaking Report, which will review progress made since 2010 and propose recommendations;
- Provide assistance to the Kosovo Forensic Agency (KFA) as an important step in developing local capacity.
Matthew Holliday, Head of ICMP’s Western Balkans Program, said the project reflects ICMP’s strategy of responding to the needs of local institutions and families in a way that can deliver sustainable solutions. “ICMP will work together with the stakeholders in Kosovo and Serbia to ensure that the remaining missing persons are accounted for and to understand what the impediments are to making progress on this very important issue.”