Sarajevo, 9 October 2023: In a significant step towards strengthening the process of locating and identifying missing persons in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Delegation of European Union to BIH and Embassy of Sweden to BIH have donated essential equipment to the Missing Persons Institute of BiH as part of its continued support to the Institute and the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP). This donation reflects the EU commitment to supporting the Bosnia and Herzegovina and the ICMP in its efforts to locate and investigate the disappearance of missing persons from the conflicts of the 1990s in line with the rule of law.
Head of the EU Delegation and EU Special Representative in BiH Ambassador Johann Sattler visited the BiH Missing Persons Institute today to officially hand over the Integrated Data Management System (iDMS), a cutting-edge software solution developed by the ICMP in close cooperation with the Missing Persons Institute of BiH. The ultimate objective was to customize the iDMS to match the Institute’s specific needs and the challenges encountered in safeguarding the Central Record of missing persons as well as ensuring analyses of large amounts of personal and forensic data.
“This donation is only one part of our continuous assistance for efforts aimed at accounting for the missing, including supporting the work of ICMP and assisting the relevant BiH authorities to fulfil their obligations towards the families of the missing. Families have the right to know the fate and whereabouts of their missing relatives. This is not only our common moral duty, but it would also contribute to strengthening the rule of law, peace and stability in the country. Lasting peace and reconciliation cannot be achieved without a credible and effective effort to account for the missing and to bring those responsible for their disappearance to justice”, said Ambassador Johann Sattler.
The customized version of the iDMS will enable the BiH Missing Persons Institute to collect, store, share, and analyze data on missing persons and their families, as well as data on exhumations, forensic examinations, and DNA analysis. This unique software tool will facilitate seamless data exchange between the field offices of the Institute.
“The modified and customized version of iDMS is a tool that will enable us to efficiently exchange data stored in the database between investigators in our regional and field offices and the Central Registry of the Missing Persons. I would like to emphasize the possibility of resolving about 1,600 NN cases from which a DNA profile was isolated but until now, we did not have a match with the blood reference samples donated by the families of the missing persons. We believe that precisely in many of these cases mistakes were made at the time when the victims were identified using the classic method before the establishment of DNA analysis”, stated Chairman of the Board of Directors of the BiH Missing Persons Institute Nikola Perisic.
The European Union has so far provided 16 million euros to support the ICMP and the BiH authorities to strengthen their capacities in the search and identification of mission persons in BiH. In addition, with the objective of transferring all the processes to the national authorities, the EU has equipped the DNA state level laboratory and will finance specialized training for the laboratory staff.
Furthermore, with EU financial assistance, the ICMP has developed a Case Management database to streamline the processing of unidentified human remains cases in mortuaries across BiH. The Case Management database, a pioneering initiative by ICMP, serves as a central repository for all active NN cases. It is populated with data meticulously gathered during the review of NN cases that was carried out in BiH mortuary facilities from 2013 to 2018. The database not only consolidates this critical information, it facilitates the implementation of recommendations outlined in the NN Review Report, another crucial project funded by the European Union.
Deputy Head of ICMP Western Balkans Program Samira Krehic emphasized the significance of this collaboration: “Over the past 25 years, with the assistance of ICMP and its donors, the BiH authorities have successfully accounted for an impressive 75 percent of the 30,000 people who were missing from the conflict. This donation is a critical step forward in enhancing BiH capacity to account for the remaining missing persons and underscores the collective commitment to resolving the missing persons issue and to fostering a sense of closure and healing for the affected families and communities in BiH”.
It is expected that these efforts will significantly enhance the efficiency of the BiH Missing Persons Institute and the BiH Prosecutor’s Office, leading to the resolution of a higher number of cases and consequently reducing the overall number of missing person cases in BIH.
ICMP is a treaty-based intergovernmental organization with Headquarters in The Hague, the Netherlands. Its mandate is to secure the co-operation of governments and other authorities in locating persons missing as a result of conflicts, human rights abuses, disasters, organized violence and other causes and to assist them in doing so.