19 November 2009: A delegation of officials from Serbia’s war crimes investigative authorities visited the forensic facilities of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) in Tuzla and its international headquarters in Sarajevo on a fact-finding and familiarization visit.
The officials from the Ministry of the Interior and the War Crimes Chamber of the Belgrade District Court of the Republic of Serbia visited ICMP’s three 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 centre for the processing of information about missing persons.
The familiarization visit, which was coordinated, arranged and financially assisted by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Mission to Serbia enabled the investigative officials to become familiarized with ICMP’s work in tracing, recovering and identifying mortal remains of persons missing from the conflicts of the nineties in the former Yugoslavia.
“We are very pleased to have become better acquainted with the working principles of the ICMP. Following their thorough explanation of the identification process, we gained a better understanding of the complexities of the reassociation process of mortal remains of missing persons, and as a result of this trip we have further established successful cooperation with the ICMP now and for the future,” said Mr.Aleksandar Kostic, Head of the War Crimes Investigation Service (WCIS), of the Ministry of Interior of the Republic of Serbia.
“Support to war crimes investigations, with particular emphasis on police work as well as inter-agency and regional cooperation is one of the highest priorities of the OSCE Mission to Serbia, and we will continue to provide support to regional efforts in war crimes investigations,” said Mr.Jan Assink, War Crimes Advisor to the OSCE Mission to Serbia.
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, and has also formed a cornerstone of its forensic science-based support to judicial institutions.
“The ICMP welcomes the involvement and interest of war crimes investigative authorities from Serbia, and this visit marks a positive and progressive step in our mutual cooperation,” said Ms.Klaudia Kuljuh, ICMP’s Western Balkans Regional Coordinator.
The DNA laboratory system of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) has made a total of nearly 16,500 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 including 15,195 from armed conflicts in the Western Balkans.