16 October 2008: US Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina, H.E. Charles L. English visited the DNA Laboratory of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP). He was accompanied in his visit by the Director-General of ICMP, Ms. Kathryne Bomberger.
“I continue to be impressed by the achievements of the ICMP in assisting this country with addressing the issue of missing persons,” said Ambassador English. “With the assistance of ICMP, almost 12,000 persons missing from the conflicts of the 1990’s in Bosnia and Herzegovina have been recovered and identified, bringing a vital sense of closure to their families”.
The ICMP DNA laboratory in Banja Luka forms part of ICMP’s laboratory system, which is the largest human identification system in the world. The system also includes a DNA Laboratory in Sarajevo and an Identification Coordination Division (ICD) in Tuzla. The ICD operates as the central nexus for the coordination of samples, data, and DNA matching for all cases processed by the ICMP from any part of the world.
In its DNA laboratory system, ICMP conducts identity testing not only on persons missing from Bosnia and Herzegovina, but from Serbia and other parts of the former Yugoslavia, as well as from other parts of the world. To date the ICMP has assisted the Philippines in identifying persons missing from Typhoon Frank, Thailand following the Asian Tsunami and the United States following Hurricane Katrina. ICMP is also assisting the Government of Chile in identifying missing persons from the Pinochet regime. In addition, ICMP will shortly begin operations in Iraq to train forensic experts in that country and a program to assist Colombia with searching for missing persons from the years of conflict in that country.
“I am pleased that Ambassador English had the opportunity today to see our laboratory in Banja Luka,” said ICMP’s Director-General Kathryne Bomberger. “We are very proud of the fact that ICMP is headquartered in this country and that we have developed the most advanced DNA system in the world here. This would not have been possible without the hard work and expertise of our staff, particularly the talented DNA analysts in our Banja Luka lab.”
Since the establishment of its DNA lab system in late 2001, ICMP has assisted the governments in the regions of the Western Balkans in making over 14,000 DNA-assisted identifications of individuals missing from the conflicts of the 1990’s.
In addition to its technical assistance, ICMP provides policy assistance to governments in the establishment of appropriate laws and mechanisms to address the missing persons issue and it strengthens the ability of civil society groups and family members of victims to engage in this important humanitarian and human rights issue.
The work of ICMP is supported by the Governments of Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Switzerland, Greece, Germany, the Holy See, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Sweden, the United Kingdom, the United States and the European Union. The C.S. Mott Foundation provides funding to ICMP for the “Paths to Reconciliation” project.