23 September 2006: Representatives of associations of missing persons expressed satisfaction today to have the opportunity to initiative dialogue in communities with serious violations of human rights. More than 50 members of associations of missing persons participated at the conference in Prijedor aimed at models of confronting the past and building foundation for the future. The conference was organized by Association Izvor, with the support of International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP).Participants discussed ways in which a country can repair consequences of wars and build trust among the former conflicting sides in the society that suffered tremendous losses, as well as the importance of documenting the truth, and significance of memorials – places of mourning, but also places of education citizens about the past.
“We do not have an ambition to launch comprehensive dialogue on war crimes and their consequences with this conference, but it is the first official and serious attempt to start a dialogue”, said Seida Kadribasic, President of Association Izvor.
Both judicial and non-judicial responses to the human rights abuses were discussed at the conference, focusing on the Prijedor area, where human rights abuses left a difficult legacy. Criminal justice is a crucial part of the response.
However, non-judicial truth seeking mechanisms also play an important role in determining the truth about the events that happened during the conflicts. By providing policy assistance, as well as technical assistance to governments in addressing the missing persons issues, society will have a chance to learn from the past and future violation can be prevented. ICMP aims to foster a process of dealing with the past by encouraging cross-ethnic dialogue and community initiatives involving victims and survivors groups, other civil society actors, and decision makers on common topics of concern.
“Through the processes of confronting the past, citizens will have a foundation for renewing the trust in each other as well as in their governments”, said Kathryne Bomberger, ICMP Chief of Staff in her written message to participants.
The objective is to encourage associations of families of missing persons to become engaged, effective members of civil society; making a contribution to truth, justice, and overall peace-building in the region.