Sarajevo 9 May 2018: The International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) today submitted 13 new DNA match reports to the BIH Missing Persons Institute. The DNA profiles were processed at ICMP’s new laboratory system at its Headquarters in The Hague.
“ICMP completed its laboratory transition at the end of December 2017 and the new laboratory became fully operational in record time,” the Head of ICMP’s Western Balkans Program, Matthew Holliday, said today. “ICMP continues to provide uninterrupted access to DNA testing and matching of biological samples submitted by BIH authorities at no cost to BIH, as it has done since 2001. There has been no change to ICMP’s assistance to BIH since ICMP moved its headquarters to The Hague.”
ICMP became a treaty-based inter-governmental organization in 2014 and in line with the new Agreement on ICMP’s Status and Functions, it moved its headquarters to The Hague. ICMP’s headquarters include its DNA laboratory system, which went back on line in March 2018. ICMP continues to provide critical assistance to the countries of the Western Balkans affected by the conflicts of the 1990s in accounting for missing persons, through its Western Balkans program, which is based in Sarajevo.
To date, ICMP has assisted in accounting for over 70 percent of the 40,000 persons missing in the region, which is the highest number of persons ever accounted for following armed conflict. ICMP intends to continue helping the countries in the Western Balkans to account for the 12,000 persons who are still missing. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, of the 30,000 persons who were missing in 1995, more than 23,000 have been found – a ratio that has not been equaled anywhere in the world.
ICMP’s new laboratory system incorporates Next Generation Sequencing (NGS), a technique that is expected to deliver an exponential increase in the power of DNA identification. At the same time, ICMP has been able to streamline the process at its new facilities, making it possible to deliver identifications more efficiently.
Mr Holliday said ICMP is also maintaining its assistance to BIH to help it fulfil its international obligations to investigate missing persons cases. ICMP’s facilities in BIH will continue to collect samples from the region, and provide field assistance and assistance in mortuaries, as well as other types of technical assistance. The same operating procedures and the highest data protection measures will be applied. All BIH ante-mortem and post-mortem samples that have already been processed by ICMP will remain in BIH. All new samples will be returned to BIH after processing in the lab.
Mr Holliday expressed the hope that the Technical Agreement on cooperation between ICMP and the MPI will soon be signed and that BIH will amend The Agreement on Assuming the Role of Co-Founders of the Missing Persons Institute of Bosnia and Herzegovina in such a way that the Council of Ministers assumes full responsibility for the Missing Persons Institute.
ICMP is a treaty-based international organization based in The Hague, the Netherlands. Its mandate is to secure the cooperation of governments and others in locating and identifying missing persons from conflict, human rights abuses, disasters, organized crime, irregular migration and other causes and to assist them in doing so. It is the only international organization tasked exclusively to work on the issue of missing persons.