Tirana, Albania, 30 August 2018: In Tirana today, Matthew Holliday, Head of the Western Balkans Program at the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP), presented ICMP’s “Site Locator”, an on-line application that facilitates the search for clandestine gravesites. Mr Holliday also spoke about the “Report a Missing Person” module, which makes it possible for people to provide information that can assist in resolving missing persons cases. Both of these programs are accessed through the Online Inquiry Centre (OIC) at www.icmp.int.
Mr Holliday was speaking at an event in Tirana today that was organized with ICMP support by the Authority for Information on Former Communist Police Secret Files and the Institute for the Integration of the Formerly Politically Persecuted, to mark International Day of the Disappeared.
“The Albanian authorities and ICMP share the goal of protecting the rights of families of the missing, in particular by ensuring that the whereabouts of missing persons and the circumstances of their disappearance are investigated effectively,” Mr Holliday said. “I believe that information provided via the Site Locator will help Albania to address the issue of missing persons from the communist era in an effective and comprehensive way, which is a key element in overcoming the legacy of a totalitarian past.”
President of the Albanian Authority on opening the files of the former secret service Gentiana Sula: “On this occasion, our key words for this painful but innovative process are: justice, peace, reconciliation and action for all the victims.”
On 18 July this year, ICMP and Albania signed a Cooperation Agreement on locating persons who went missing during the 1944-1991 period, as well as in other circumstances for which the Council of Ministers may seek ICMP’s assistance. The agreement defines ICMP’s legal status and functions in Albania in accordance with the Vienna Convention.
The Albanian parliament is expected to ratify the agreement when it reconvenes after the summer recess. This will enable ICMP to begin providing technical assistance at excavations which are planned at the Dajti site near Tirana and the Ballsh site in southern Albania.
ICMP is a treaty-based international organization with headquarters in The Hague. 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. ICMP has spearheaded an effort of more than 20 years to account for the missing from the conflicts in former Yugoslavia.