1 February 2010: The High Representative and EU Special Representative (HR/EUSR) for Bosnia and Herzegovina, H.E. Mr. Valentin Inzko, visited the facilities of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) and Podrinje Identification Project in Tuzla today.
Accompanied by ICMP’s Chief Operating Officer, Adam Boys, Mr. Inzko first visited PIP, which was specifically created to assist in the identification of persons missing from the 1995 fall of Srebrenica, and where mortal remains of these victims are examined and stored until final identification. Mr. Inzko saw first-hand how ICMP forensic experts conduct ante-mortem and post-mortem data comparisons, and assist domestic authorities in making a final determination of identity so that families can bury their loved ones with dignity.
Mr. Inzko also visited the ICMP Identification Coordination Division (ICD), where ICMP receives, submits for processing, archives, and matches all blood samples collected from relatives of missing persons and all bone samples from exhumed mortal remains received from government authorities throughout the former Yugoslavia and from other parts of the world. Having been bar-coded to ensure anonymity the samples are sent to ICMP’s laboratories for DNA analysis. Once extracted, the DNA profiles are entered into ICMP’s database and compared to each other to find possible matches.
“I have come here today to congratulate the ICMP on its work and I am deeply impressed with professionalism of this institution, which is one of a kind in the world. I am shaken with what I have seen and I understand that there are still many families who are searching for their loved ones, but I know that through its work thus far ICMP has ended the anguish and uncertainty of numerous families. ICMP’s mission, like the mission of the BIH Missing Persons Institute, is deeply humanitarian and contributes to establishment of truth in a scientific and unbiased manner, which is the only way to ensuring lasting peace and reconciliation”, said the High Representative and EU Special Representative (HR/EUSR) for Bosnia and Herzegovina H.E. Mr. Valentin Inzko following his visit to ICMP.
“Mr. Inzko is the head of an institution that laid the foundations for the exhumation process in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and ICMP continued it and improved it. After years of hard work and cooperation with local institutions and BiH experts, this country now has the Missing Persons Institute, a state-level institution that searches for persons missing from armed conflicts, regardless of their national or religious background. MPI is the future of this process and it needs the support from all relevant institutions, because its job is extremely complicated, and is further complicated by the current political situation in the country”, ICMP’s Chief Operating Officer Adam Boys said.
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.
ICMP’s mandate is 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 to scientifically identify 18,000 missing persons and its database houses 150,000 genetic samples relative to missing persons in over 20 countries.