Accounting for the Missing Is a Key Element in Post-War Justice

The Hague, 20 March 2019: The Director-General of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP), Kathryne Bomberger, issued a statement following the verdict of the UN International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (MICT) in the case of Radovan Karadzic.

“A chapter in the history of conflict of the Western Balkans closed today, when the MICT upheld the conviction of Radovan Karadzic for genocide and war crimes and extended the sentence to life in prison.

“As those who were responsible for crimes are brought to justice, it is important that their victims are not forgotten. In the former Yugoslavia, 40,000 people went missing as a result of the conflicts. More than two thirds of these people have been accounted for as a result of the action of regional governments, working together with ICMP. However, 12,000 people are still missing, including one thousand of the 8,000 victims of the Srebrenica Genocide.

“ICMP provided evidence in the Karadzic trial, presenting expert testimony on its work to assist in identifying thousands of victims through a DNA-led identification process. Last November, the representatives of the authorities responsible for accounting for missing persons in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Montenegro and Serbia signed a Framework Plan with ICMP that lays out steps to boost their cooperation and increase their effectiveness in accounting for those who are still missing throughout the region. The international community must continue to support this process.

“Convicting those responsible for war crimes is an essential element in upholding the rule of law. Ensuring that governments fulfil their legal obligations to account for those who are missing as a result of these crimes and to secure the rights of all surviving families of the missing is an important element in the same process.”