Sarajevo, 17 March: A delegation of Libyan government officials and experts have concluded a 5-day, ICMP-facilitated visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina (BIH) where they had an opportunity to learn at first hand about the process implemented in BIH to account for persons missing from the conflict of the 1990s. In the last 25 years, with ICMP assistance and through the pioneering use of DNA, the authorities in BIH have been able to account for 75 percent of the 30,000 people who went missing during the conflict, a ratio that has not been equalled in any other post-conflict country.
“The authorities in Libya are facing a major challenge to address the issue of missing persons from different causes,” said ICMP Director-General Kathryne Bomberger. “Bosnia and Herzegovina developed a successful model of a missing persons process that enables families of the missing to secure their right to truth, justice and reparations. This is a system that makes it possible to uncover the truth about crimes.” Ms Bomberger said “ICMP stands ready to provide expertise to assist the Libyan authorities throughout the process.”
In Libya, between 10,000 and 20,000 persons are estimated to be missing as a result of conflict, instability and human rights violations over a period of decades. Additionally, an unknown number of persons have gone missing while crossing or leaving Libya on migratory routes.
The representative of the Attorney General’s Office and the representative of the Judicial Expertise Center at the Libyan Ministry of Justice, Ilyas Hamrouni and Aboulqassim Allafi, commended ICMP’s efforts in BIH to help the authorities search for victims, establish a central database and engage families of the missing, and they expressed their willingness to work with ICMP on some of the issues facing Libya.
Dr. Ilyas Hamrouni, Head of the Permanent Technical Committee for Illegal Migration and Mass Graves, said steps taken by the Committee are compatible with the efforts made by ICMP in BIH, and that work on the issue of unidentified bodies requires the concerted and intensified efforts of Libyan institutions. He said it was important to maintain the integrity of procedures, chain of custody, non-overlapping competencies, and professional standards of all those working on this issue. He also highlighted the importance of centralization of data under Ministry of Justice decree No. 627 of 2022, by forming a permanent technical committee among the responsible authorities and under the direct supervision of the Attorney General.
Munir Marog, Director of forensic laboratories and the Evidence Department of the Criminal Investigation Directorate in the Libyan Ministry of Interior of the Government of National Unity, said: “As Director, I am pleased to express my sincere thanks and appreciation for the success of these events, the exchange of views and opinions, and the benefit of experience of ICMP in the field of searching for missing persons. We hope that you will continue these events to increase the work coordination between our institutions in the state of Libya.”
ICMP works with stakeholders in Libya to enhance standards and procedures applied in investigations at mass grave sites throughout the country, including creation of centralized data systems; strengthening forensic capacities; enhancing data privacy measures; and working on the further engagement of families of the missing in the process.
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.
ICMP is a treaty-based intergovernmental organization that seeks to ensure the cooperation of governments and others in locating missing persons from conflict, human rights abuses, disasters, organized crime, migration, and other causes, and to assist them in doing so. ICMP also supports the work of other organizations in their efforts, encourages public involvement in its activities and contributes to the development of appropriate expressions of commemoration and tribute to the missing.