15 November 2011: A delegation from the European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX), including, Silvio Bonfigli, EULEX Head of the Justice Component and Alan Robinson, Co-Head of the Department for Forensic Medicine (DFM) visited the offices of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) from 10-11 November, where they met with ICMP Director General, Kathryne Bomberger and came to an agreement regarding measures to address difficult cases of persons missing from the Kosovo conflict.
“Our two organizations have worked successfully over the years and as a consequence 2,370 persons have been located and accurately identified. Our efforts in this vitally important work have been supported as well by the efforts of local authorities in both Pristina and Belgrade, families of the missing, the ICRC, UNMIK and ICTY” said Ms. Bomberger, “however, there are approximately 1,800 persons still reported missing from the Kosovo conflict and there has been a steady decline over the years in finding missing persons. We look forward to working closely with EULEX and our colleagues at DFM to focus on new approaches to resolving difficult cases,” said Ms. Bomberger.
“There could be a variety of reasons regarding why the process of resolving cases has become more difficult,” said Mr. Bonfigli. “We hope that our intensified efforts with ICMP to focus on unidentified mortal remains in the mortuary will continue to yield results. Since December 2009 our collaborative work has resulted in new identifications and following our discussion we will now explore new avenues. In addition, EULEX will continue with its extensive field work and recovery efforts throughout Kosovo and we will continue to work with regional authorities, along with ICMP, to ensure that information regarding the location of missing persons is investigated,” Mr. Bonfigli added.
Mr. Bonfigli and Ms. Bomberger agreed that resolving the issue of persons missing from the Kosovo conflict is not only of critical importance in alleviating the suffering of thousands of families in the region, but to the full implementation of the rule of law and to ensuring peace and stability in the region.
The European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX) is the largest civilian mission ever launched under the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). The central aim is to assist and support the Kosovo authorities in the rule of law area, specifically in the police, judiciary and customs areas. The EULEX Forensic Experts at the Department of Forensic Medicine work intensively with their local counterparts to determine the fate of the Missing and on the development of local forensic capacity to address this issue.
ICMP endeavors to secure the co-operation of governments and other authorities in locating and identifying persons missing as a result of armed conflicts, other hostilities or violations of human rights and to assist them in doing so. Since November 2001, ICMP has led the way in using DNA as the first step in the identification of large numbers of persons missing from armed conflict. In the Western Balkans ICMP has genetic information from 89,275 relatives of 29,125 missing people and has assisted in the identification of 16,408 missing persons.