The Hague August 16: In the Republika Srpska (RS) National Assembly on Tuesday attempts were made to reject or significantly amend the Report of the Commission for Investigation of the Events in and around Srebrenica between 10 and 19 July 1995, produced for the RS Government 14 years ago. The Report laid out the facts surrounding the events at Srebrenica and called on the RS leadership to apologize to the families of the victims.
The RSNA’s move to reject or amend this Report directly undermines reconciliation and the full implementation of the rule of law in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The facts established by the Report have been confirmed by international and domestic criminal courts. The facts have also been supported by two decades of systematic forensic work conducted by the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP). ICMP’s work has confirmed earlier conclusions regarding the events at Srebrenica and Zepa in 1995. The facts are even less disputable today than they were in 2004.
More than 8,000 persons were reported missing from the fall of the Srebrenica and Zepa UN Safe Areas in July 1995. By 26 June 2018, the mortal remains of 6,940 of these missing persons had been identified since ICMP introduced a DNA-led process of human identification in 2001. At ICMP, DNA identifications are based on a minimum certainty of 99.95 percent. Therefore, the identity of the vast majority of persons who went missing in Srebrenica and Zepa has been scientifically and conclusively established.
ICMP scientific data concerning persons missing from the fall of Srebrenica has been admitted in evidence at trials before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and to courts in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The evidence has been cross-examined in great detail numerous times. In the case of the Prosecutor vs. Radovan Karadzic, a random and representative group of more than 1,000 family members of persons reported missing from Srebrenica and Zepa provided their genetic data, and that of their missing relatives, to the accused to allow his legal and scientific experts to verify the DNA evidence that their relatives are among those missing from the fall of Srebrenica. The evidence has been consistently upheld in trial.
The RS National Assembly’s vote to reject or amend the 2004 Report is disturbing. It is not founded on any new facts. On the contrary, facts established since 2004 support the Report’s conclusions. Two international tribunals, the ICTY and ICJ, concluded that genocide was committed in Srebrenica. The RS National Assembly’s vote appears to be motivated solely by an intent to reopen wounds that have barely begun to heal.
The International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) has worked with the all countries in the former Yugoslavia to support their efforts to locate and identify missing persons from the conflicts of the 1990’s. Over 70 % of the 40,000 persons missing, from all national, ethnic and religious groups have been accounted for with ICMP’s assistance. ICMP has also worked with all governments to ensure that mechanisms are in place to secure the rights of all families of the missing, regardless of the circumstances of their disappearance. Governments and political authorities must continue to work together to resolve the remaining missing persons cases and to ensure that reliable and accurate information is provided to families and the public.
For more information on the identification of victims of the Srebrenica genocide, please see our infographics: http://bit.ly/2nHyvgQ