EU delegation visits ICMP forensic facilities

H.E Bosse Hedberg, Sweden’s Ambassador to Bosnia-Herzegovina giving statements to press

30 September 2009: The International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) hosted a visit to its facilities in Tuzla by a high-level delegation of EU Ambassadors, diplomatic staff, military and police officers led by H.E Bosse Hedberg, Sweden’s Ambassador to Bosnia-Herzegovina. Sweden currently holds the presidency of the European Union and is also a major donor to ICMP.
The delegation included Ambassadors, other senior diplomats, military and police officers from EU countries, the European Commission, EUFOR and the European Union Police Mission. The delegation visited ICMP’s three forensic facilities in Tuzla, the Podrinje Identification Project, the Lukavac Reassociation Centre and the Identification Coordination Division (ICD). ICMP constructed the first two projects specifically to assist in the identification of victims of the 1995 fall of Srebrenica, while ICD exists as ICMP’s worldwide information nexus.

The DNA laboratory system of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) has made a total of more than 16,400 DNA matches during its work assisting governments worldwide in dealing with the issue of persons missing from armed conflicts, human rights violations and natural disasters. This is the largest number of DNA-assisted identifications ever made, and since ICMP’s DNA identification system went online in November 2001, 15,060 identifications have been made of persons missing from armed conflicts in the Western Balkans including 12,652 who were missing from Bosnia-Herzegovina.

“ICMP has created something unique and revolutionary. So far in this region over 15,000 people have been accurately identified using DNA technology. The techniques have been developed in this country using, in large part, the skills of people from this region. In fact 90% of ICMP’s staff is Bosnian and this country should be proud of what they have achieved”, Ambassador Hedberg said following the visit.

“Without the very important support of Sweden and other EU donor countries represented here, ICMP would simply not be able to carry out its most vital operations in Bosnia-Herzegovina. This visit also emphasizes to the families of missing persons in this country that the International Community remains determined to assist them in their search for answers,” said Adam Boys, ICMP’s Chief Operating Officer.

The introduction of DNA by the ICMP as the basis for identifying large numbers of missing persons from the 1990’s conflicts in the Western Balkans enabled accurate identifications of persons that would never otherwise have been identified. The first DNA match, for a 15 year-old boy from Srebrenica, was made on November 16, 2001.

ICMP is also the co-founder of the Missing Persons Institute of Bosnia-Herzegovina (MPI) which was inaugurated as a state-level institution in 2005, taking over the responsibilities, staff and budgets of the entity bodies formerly charged with these responsibilities. The work of MPI also brings closer the implementation of the Law on Missing Persons, which helps safeguard the rights of families of the missing.