High-level US Congressional delegation visits ICMP

13 July 2009: A high-level delegation including two members of the United States House of Representatives visited the Sarajevo headquarters of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP). The delegation consisted of Democratic Party Congressman Russ Carnahan from Missouri and Democratic Party Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey from California.The visit to ICMP enabled the delegation to receive detailed briefings on ICMP’s operations not only in Bosnia and the Western Balkans but also in Iraq, Colombia and the Philippines. The Representatives also visited ICMP’s Sarajevo DNA laboratory, which forms a focal part of the organizations’ DNA-assisted identification system.

“This is important work, where some of the best scientists are using some of the world best science. This science is about facts and not about politics. Any victim of violence or war and any families of the missing can benefit from this work, which is important for the healing process and vital for the future of all people in Bosnia and Herzegovina. I will be certain to share ICMP’s work and success with my colleagues in Congress and the Committee on International Organizations, Human Rights and Oversight,” said Congressman Russ Carnahan.

“ICMP’s work here has also implications to other parts of the world and we are looking forward to continue supporting ICMP in the future”, he added.

“The technology and the expertise of ICMP can help the families of the missing to find out the truth about their loved once and it would be of high importance for the families of the missing and the survivors to pass the Law on Missing Persons in Bosnia and Herzegovina. We will continue to support ICMP as it does its work here, but also as it moves around the world as a model for helping the survivors and victims to find closure and end their pain and suffering,” said Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey.

“Without the initiative and foresight of the US Government, there would be no ICMP today,” said ICMP’s Director-General Ms.Kathryne Bomberger.

“ICMP is an international commission that was created at the behest of the US Government in 1996 and we are enormously grateful to the United States for the enormous financial and political support that it has provided to ICMP since the beginning of its work. ICMP’s priorities are many, but here and now in BiH these include providing key assistance to the Missing Persons Institute and supporting the implementation of the Law on Missing Persons,” Bomberger said.

Since ICMP’s inception in 1996 the United States has provided $41,457,396 of funding which has assisted in supporting the organizations’ activities. The ICMP currently assists the governments of the Western Balkans, as well as those of Iraq, Chile, Colombia and the Philippines.

Of the estimated 30,000 persons missing following the Bosnian war there are still some 8-10,000 persons still unaccounted for: using DNA-assisted identification techniques, ICMP has already identified 12,520 of these, including 6,186 persons of the estimated 8,100 missing following the fall of Srebrenica in 1995. The missing persons problem is therefore one of the main human rights issues facing BiH today.

In addition to its technical support in the identification process, ICMP is the co-founder of the Missing Persons Institute of BiH. ICMP also contributes to transitional justice activities, provides legislative support and helps in the development of networks of civil society organizations which advocate for truth, justice, and for the rights of family members of missing persons.

The work of ICMP is also supported by the Governments of Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, the Holy See, Iceland, Ireland, Poland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK, the United States and the European Union. The Charles Stewart Mott Foundation provides funding to ICMP for the ‘Paths to Reconciliation’ project.