Council of Ministers Formally Approves Missing Persons Institute

5 August 2005: The BiH Council of Ministers this morning formally approved the establishment of the Missing Persons Institute (MPI) as a State-level institute to search for missing persons across the country. The MPI will provide BiH with a sustainable national mechanism to address the issue of persons missing as a result of the conflicts in BiH, regardless of their ethnic, religious or national origin.The Missing Persons Institute was originally founded by the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) in August 2000. Following today’s approval of the Agreement on Assuming the Role of Co-Founders of the Missing Persons Institute of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Council of Ministers will become a co-founder of the Institute, along with ICMP.

The official signing ceremony of the Agreement will take place on 30 August in Sarajevo. August 30 is International Day of the Disappeared and it has become customary that on this day victims from across the regions of the former Yugoslavia are remembered and states are reminded of their continuing obligation to provide answers as to the fate and whereabouts of those missing.

The MPI will take over the work, responsibilities, staff and duties of the currently existing entity structures, the Republika Srpska Office on Missing and Detained Persons and the Federation Commission on Missing Persons. ICMP has been working with BiH authorities, the entity commissions and with family members to help to create the political will to make such a State-level structure possible.

“This is one of the most significant steps forward we have seen in a long time, not only in addressing the missing persons issue, but for Bosnia-Herzegovina as a whole,” said Kathryne Bomberger, ICMP Chief of Staff, when formal approval of the MPI was announced. “The MPI will ultimately establish a central, transparent list of persons missing from the conflict in this country, which will leave no room for the damaging political manipulation of the numbers of victims that we have seen.”

The State-level MPI will include an advisory board of family representatives of missing persons and a steering board of eminent individuals from the BiH Government and civil society, allowing for the active involvement of civil society, especially victims groups; it will be the central repository for all data and records relevant to missing persons. Its mandate includes engagement in commemoration, truth-seeking and raising awareness of the missing persons issue; and it will have operational capacities to investigate the truth concerning the fate of the missing.