The Hague, 6 February 2018: The Republic of Croatia and the International Commission on Missing persons (ICMP) will work together to put the effort to account for 1,945 people missing from the Republic of Croatia during 1991-1995.
“The relevant authorities of the Republic of Croatia have cooperated with ICMP for almost two decades and, with new forensic and database technology now available, we believe that we can build on the activities we have already done together,” Assistant Minister Stjepan Sucic of the Ministry of Croatian Defenders said today during a visit to ICMP’s Headquarters in The Hague. “A major challenge is to ensure accurate information on missing persons and clandestine graves which is preconditioned by the necessary political support to the process of accounting of the missing and promotion of public awareness.”
During the visit, Assistant Minister Stjepan Sucic, together with Visnja Bilic, head of the Ministry of Croatian Defenders’ Department for Persons Detained and Missing in the Homeland War, Milovan Kubat, Director of Zagreb University’s Institute for Legal Medicine and Criminology, and Monika Karija-Vlahovic, DNA Analyst at the Institute, discussed potential use by the Republic of Croatia of ICMP’s Site Locator application.
The Site Locator, which can be accessed through ICMP’s Online Inquiry Center, makes it possible for people to provide information on potential graves, either anonymously or with accompanying contact details.
ICMP Director-General Kathryne Bomberger commended the Croatian authorities for their decision to participate in the Database of Active Missing-Persons Cases from the Armed Conflicts in the Former Yugoslavia initiated and coordinated by ICMP with support of the European Union. In January 2017, the Ministry of Croatian Defenders and ICMP signed the Agreement on the participation of the Republic of Croatia in the project, under which data about active missing-persons cases provided by Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro and Serbia is accessible and searchable by all participating states.
The Database includes the missing person’s first name, father’s name, last name, date of birth, place of birth, date of disappearance, place of disappearance, municipality of disappearance, identification (if any), and the name of the responsible body in which the disappearance has been registered. It is available as an online application hosted on ICMP’s server under the most rigorous security standards.
“ICMP is providing data-processing that can be accessed by stakeholders in Croatia and neighboring countries,” Ms Bomberger said. “This makes it possible to collect and share information on individual missing persons in a secure system that eliminates duplication of records and facilitates access. We believe it can result in a substantial number of new identifications.”
Welcoming the ICMP initiative which was recognized as a highly useful tool to resolve missing person cases, Assistant Minister Stjepan Sucic of the Ministry of Croatian Defenders said that “in the coming period pending the publication of the Database to the interested public, the focus should be on alignment of principles and standards of nomination and registration of missing persons so the records could be truly based on the factual truth”.
The exceptional efficiency of the Joint Project on DNA-led Identifications concluded between the Directorate of Detained and Missing of the Ministry of Croatian Defenders and ICMP was also underlined. The Joint Project has helped to identify more than 600 complex missing persons cases through a joint project with the Croatian. Today, the Croatian delegation discussed training opportunities at ICMP and the detailed procedure for securing more DNA matches under the joint project.
ICMP works with governments, civil society organizations, justice bodies, international organizations and others throughout the world to address the issue of people who have gone missing as a result of armed conflict, human rights abuses, disasters, organized crime and other causes. As the only international organization that is exclusively dedicated to this issue, ICMP is actively engaged in developing institutions and civil society capacity, promoting legislation, fostering social and political advocacy, and developing and providing technical expertise to locate and identify the missing.