ICMP and Kosovo Authorities Agree on the Steps to Review the Unidentified Human Remains in Pristina Mortuary

The Hague: 9 March 2022 – Last week, a delegation of representatives of Kosovo institutions that work on the issue of missing persons has visited the Headquarters of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) to discuss measures to enhance the process of accounting for missing persons from the Kosovo conflict.

The Kosovo delegation comprised of representatives of the Ministry of Justice, the Government Commission on Missing Persons, and the Institute for Forensic Medicine discussed cooperation in undertaking a thorough review of the technical process conducted in Kosovo over the last two decades, and strengthening the regional cooperation through the Missing Persons Group.

Kathryne Bomberger, the Director-General of the ICMP emphasized the importance of the forthcoming technical review of unidentified cases in the Institute for Forensic Medicine of Kosovo (IFM) mortuary, as well as increasing the capacities of the IFM with regards to managing and analyzing data on missing persons cases.

“With the ICMP assistance, the Institute for Forensic Medicine of Kosovo and the Kosovo Government Commission on Missing Persons will conduct a comprehensive review of the 300-400 cases of unidentified human remains in Pristina Mortuary. This process will lead to resolving a number of cases of missing persons enabling Kosovo authorities to fulfill their legal obligation to uphold the rights of the families of the missing”, Ms. Bomberger said.

More information on the proces of accounting for the missing from the Kosovo conflict is available in ICMP’s Kosovo Conflict Stocktaking Report and infographic.

“This review will also help the planning of future actions to resolve more missing persons cases, and enable the Kosovo authorities to enhance its work with Serbia and the other regional governments participating in the Missing Persons Group,” Ms. Bomberger added.

Mr. Andin Hoti, Chairman, Kosovo Government Commission on Missing Persons said: “This visit helps us advance our cooperation between the Kosovo Institutions and the ICMP. We agreed to intensify our joint efforts to identify the missing persons as soon as possible and in the most accurate way possible using DNA technology. We have also agreed on concrete steps related to the review of mortal remains stored in the Prishtina mortuary and the process in general. ICMP and Kosovo have years of close cooperation in the process, and ICMP’s expertise in this field will help clarify the fate of our loved ones”.

Over the last two decades, by supporting cooperation among governments in the region, ICMP has helped countries of the former Yugoslavia to account for 28,000 of the 40,000 people who were missing at the end of the conflict, an achievement that has not been equaled anywhere in the world. In June 2018 heads of governments from the Western Balkans meeting in London signed a Joint Declaration renewing their commitment to cooperate in the effort to account for those who are still missing. The Joint Declaration was followed by the signing of a Framework Plan last November, at ICMP headquarters in The Hague, by representatives of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Montenegro and Serbia, who formally undertook to work together as the regional Missing Persons Group (MPG).

ICMP helped Kosovo create the Government Commission on Missing Persons in 2006 and it continues to help the authorities in Kosovo fulfil their obligations under local and international law to find all missing persons regardless of their religious or national origin and to secure the rights of all surviving families of the missing to justice, truth and reparations.

A Kosovo delegation visit is part of the project strengthening regional cooperation to resolve missing persons cases from the conflicts of the 1990s supported by the Government of the United Kingdom and the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany.

About ICMP

ICMP is a treaty-based intergovernmental organization with Headquarters in The Hague, the Netherlands. Its mandate is to secure the cooperation of governments and others in locating missing persons from conflict, human rights abuses, disasters, organized crime, irregular migration and other causes and to assist them in doing so. It is tasked exclusively to work on the issue of missing persons.