The Hague, 29 September: In Tirana this morning, Prime Minister Edi Rama and Director-General of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) Kathryne Bomberger discussed next steps in establishing a program to assist the government of Albania to account for those who went missing during the Communist period (1945 to 1991) and other cases of missing persons.
The initial phase of the project will include efforts to identify missing persons recovered from the mass grave discovered near Mount Dajti northeast of Tirana in 2010 and from a site in Ballsh in southern Albania.
“ICMP welcomes the readiness of the Government of Albania to address the issue of missing persons in an effective way,” Kathryne Bomberger said today. Referring to the 2015 Law on Opening the Communist Files, she noted that “dealing with the issue of missing persons from the Communist period demonstrates a commitment on the part of the Government to address the rights of the families of the missing.”
During the meeting, Ms Bomberger invited Albania to accede to the Agreement on the Status and Functions of ICMP. She said that by becoming a State Party to the Agreement, Albania would join other countries in mounting an effective response to the global challenge missing persons from conflict, human rights abuses, disasters and other causes.
The ICMP program to assist Albania is funded by the European Union.
Background on Missing Persons in Albania
Official data on missing persons and on judicially or extra-judicially imprisoned or executed victims between 1945 and 1991 is incomplete. Some estimate that as many as 6,000 people were executed. Their bodies were never returned to their families for burial. Instead they were interred in mass unmarked graves near detention centers, prisons and labor camps.
In 2015, ICMP received a formal invitation from the Albanian Government to visit Tirana and discuss perspectives of potential ICMP assistance to the Government. An official visit of representatives of the Albanian authorities to ICMP’s facilities in Bosnia and Herzegovina in October 2015 resulted in the development of a roadmap outlining prospective cooperation between Albanian institutions and ICMP as well as a series of coordinated activities to locate, excavate and identify the missing through a sustainable process led by the Albanian authorities with technical assistance from ICMP.
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.