12 December 2008: The International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) provided a special, in-depth presentation of its work to a high-level delegation of 20 national and International Prosecutors from the Special Department for War Crimes of the Prosecutors’ Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The objective of the ICMP seminar was to provide prosecutors with an overview of the technical assistance that ICMP provides to governments in locating, recovering and identifying the mortal remains of persons missing from armed conflict, crimes against humanity and other violations of human rights. Given that ICMP assistance in this regard is also relevant to criminal prosecutions, it is also important that prosecutors understand the scope of ICMP’s work and the type of assistance it can provide to justice sector institutions.
“This seminar gives us a unique opportunity to provide a crucial in-depth presentation of our work to officials responsible for the prosecution of war crimes in Bosnia and Herzegovina,” said ICMP’s Director-General Ms. Kathryne Bomberger. “We hope to continue this type of training in the future,” she added.
The team of prosecutors received briefings on a variety of topics, from the role of ICMP at excavation sites, to assistance provided in the complex process of re-associating disarticulated mortal remains found in secondary mass graves, to the use of a DNA-led process of identifications that incorporates an integrated scientific approach. In addition, they learned about the role the Missing Persons Institute in BiH, as well as the relevance of the Law on Missing Persons for BiH.
More than 17,000 people still remain missing across the territory of the former Yugoslavia, and ICMP assists governments in the process of locating, recovering and identifying these missing persons through the use of forensic archaeology, anthropology and DNA science. ICMP made its first DNA match on November 16, 2001 and currently almost 12,000 different individuals from Bosnia have been identified, with almost 5,800 of them from the 1995 fall of Srebrenica. ICMP provides policy assistance to governments in the establishment of appropriate laws and mechanisms to address the missing persons issue and it strengthens the ability of civil society groups and family members of victims to engage in this important humanitarian and human rights issue.