The ICMP Director-General today received representative of NGOs from Republika Srpska representing the families of missing persons, Mr. Nedeljko Mitrovic head of the Republika Srpska Organization of Imprisoned and Killed Soldiers and Missing Civilians, and the members of this Organization Mr. Boro Peulić and Mr. Veljko Lazic, as well as BiH MPI Board of Directors member Mr. Milutin Misic, where they discussed a variety of issues relevant to the missing persons process.
The issues discussed included the launching of the activities of the Working Group for Resolving the Issue of Unidentified Mortal Remains in mortuaries, Halls and Memorial Ossuaries process throughout BiH, expediting the process of locating and recovering missing persons, amending the Book of Rules governing the verification of the Central Records, amending the Law on Missing Persons of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the management structure of MPI, the storage of mortal remains, systematizing the process of notification of closed cases to families of the missing, as well as the rationalization of the costs of exhumations and identifications.
The participants jointly agreed on a set of recommendations, including:
• That Working Group for Resolving the Issue of Unidentified Mortal Remains in mortuaries, Halls and Memorial Ossuaries should be established throughout BiH without delay, so that an inventory and review can be conducted of all mortuary facilities. There are currently, 2,500 mortal remains in the custody of authorities in both entities of Bosnia and Herzegovina that have not been identified. Since 2007, ICMP has urged authorities in BiH to conduct a full inventory and review of mortuaries through an NN Working Group process. In these 2,500 cases, ICMP has a unique genetic profile obtained from a bone sample received from local authorities, which cannot be matched to over 9,000 full sets of blood samples voluntarily provided to ICMP by over 18,000 family members of the missing.
• That the process of locating and recovering missing persons from the BiH conflict should be expedited.
• The Book of Rules governing the verification of the Central Records of MPI should be amended so that other institutions can participate in the process, along with the MPI. In addition, the process of verification should be expedited.
• The Law on Missing Persons should be amended and a working group should be established to discuss the amendments to the law created in 2004;
• The process of notifying families of the missing should be systematized so that uniform procedures are in place throughout BiH.
“We had an open discussion. We found a joint solution to some issues. For example, we agreed that the Working Group for Unidentified Mortal Remains should make a list, be balanced and with the priority of new identifications. Furthermore, we agreed that the Commission for verification of the Central Records of Missing Persons should be multidisciplinary and comprised of representatives from several institutions; also to initiate amendments to the Law on Missing Persons in several issues, and to consider the rationalization of expenses of exhumations and identification. We expressed our willingness to continue to jointly seek solutions to improve the process and to eliminate any degree of mistrust,” Mitrovic said.
“The search for missing persons causes continuing and terrible pain for families and it is understandable that they express their frustration. Frankly, I share Mr Mitrovic’s sense of frustration. While over 70% of missing persons have been accounted for there remain some 10,000 people who have not been accounted for,” said Kathryne Bomberger, Director General of ICMP. “The measures outlined in our meeting today, particularly the launching of the “NN Working Group” by local authorities, is a very good, constructive start to dealing with issues that are currently obstructing progress on the missing persons process,” Bomberger said.