Robust, Active Engagement of Families is Key to Finding Missing Persons and Upholding the Rule of Law

The Hague 5 October 2023 – Visiting the Headquarters of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) in The Hague today, members of the Advisory Board of the Bosnia and Herzegovina Missing Persons Institute (MPI) emphasized the importance of regional cooperation, full implementation of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s (BiH) Law on Missing Persons, and continued support for the work of the MPI.

The Law on Missing Persons, created in 2004, stipulates the creation of a verified BiH Central Record of Missing Persons and the establishment of a BiH Fund for Families of the Missing. The fund, which is to provide financial support to families of the missing, regardless of national or religious affiliation or circumstances of disappearance, has not yet been established.

The Chairman of the MPI Advisory Board Ante Maric called on BiH government institutions to work together. “Approximately 7,000 families are still waiting for information about their missing loved ones,’ he said. “This underscores the urgency of cooperation and comprehensive implementation of the law.”

ICMP Director-General Kathryne Bomberger emphasized the importance of engagement of families of the missing in the process. She said, “With ICMP support and engagement of the families of the missing the authorities in BIH managed to locate more than 75 percent of more than 30,000 people who went missing during the conflict of the 1990s in BIH. The efforts must continue to account for the remaining missing persons in order to uphold the rule of law. The active and engaged role of families of the missing is crucial for the success of this process.”

In June 2018, heads of government from the Western Balkans meeting in London signed a Joint Declaration renewing their commitment to cooperate in the effort to account for those who are still missing. The Joint Declaration was followed by the signing of a Framework Plan in November 2018, at ICMP Headquarters in The Hague, by representatives of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Montenegro and Serbia, who formally undertook to work together as the regional Missing Persons Group (MPG).

Associations of families of missing persons from the Western Balkans gathered as Regional Coordination Network are jointly working for the resolution of missing persons issues with the governments in the region and advocating for effective investigations into the enforced disappearance of their relatives during the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s.

Today’s visit was part of the project supported by the Delegation of the European Union to BIH and Swedish Embassy in BIH and being implemented by ICMP, to strengthen the efforts to find the remaining missing persons.

About ICMP

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.