The French Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina visits ICMP

30 September 2010: During a visit to the facilities of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) in Tuzla today, the Ambassador of the Republic of France to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Mr. Roland Gilles praised ICMP’s work, especially the technical assistance that ICMP is providing to governments.

The ambassador visited ICMP’s Identification Coordination Division (ICD), which forms part of ICMP’s DNA Laboratory system and which extends from Sarajevo to Banja Luka.  The ICMP ICD works on cases of missing persons from around the world.  It is the nexus of the ICMP DNA system and as such is responsible for receiving, archiving and preparing biological samples obtained from families of the missing and post mortem samples received from government authorities.  After being bar coded these samples are sent to ICMP laboratories in Sarajevo and Banja Luka. Once the DNA is extracted, the DNA profiles are entered into ICMP’s database and the DNA matching process is performed. The ambassador also visited the Podrinje Identification Project (PIP), which was specifically created to assist in the identification of persons missing from the 1995 fall of Srebrenica.

“ICMP confronts the suffering of mankind on a daily basis and I am amazed by the professionalism and dedication shown by ICMP experts. The work of ICMP is a noble contribution to peace and stability in the region. I am pleased to learn that over two-thirds of the estimated 30,000 persons missing from the conflicts in Bosnia and Herzegovina have been accounted for. This work is an unprecedented achievement,” said Ambassador Gilles adding that ICMP’s expertise would be of value to any country which is faced with the issue of missing persons.

“ICMP is grateful to the Government of France for the support it has provided to our work and for recognizing ICMP’s contribution to peace and reconciliation,” said Kathryne Bomberger, Director General of ICMP.

As part of its mandate, ICMP seeks 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. ICMP pioneered the use of DNA technology to identify large numbers of missing persons. Today ICMP has helped scientifically identify 18,000 missing persons and its database houses 150,000 genetic samples relative to missing persons in over 20 countries.

ICMP is the co-founder, with the Council of Ministers, of the Missing Persons Institute of BiH, contributes to rule of law activities and supports the development of networks of civil society organizations which advocate for truth, justice, and the rights of family members of missing persons.

Techniques developed by ICMP in the Western Balkans have revolutionized the search for the missing in other countries and ICMP experts are now assisting the governments of Iraq, the Philippines, Chile and Colombia, as well as assistance to Kuwait, Norway, Thailand and South Africa.