19 December 2003: The first Working Group meeting to draft the Protocol for the Missing Persons Institute (MPI) took place yesterday in Sarajevo at the Joint Institutions Building. The International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) welcomes this important beginning towards implementation of the MPI on the level of the State.The objective of the MPI is to provide BiH with a long-lasting mechanism to address the issue of persons missing from the conflicts in BiH, regardless of their ethnic, religious or national origin.
The MPI was originally founded by ICMP in August 2000. On 4th June 2003, the Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) members of the Presidency agreed unanimously on a decision for BiH to become a co-founder of the MPI, along with ICMP and asked for the Council of Ministers to establish a Working Group to draft the Protocol.
Currently the process of recovery and identification of mortal remains from the conflicts in BiH is administered by entity-level commissions on missing persons, in conjunction with the relevant courts and is coordinated by the ICMP, in a procedure known as the Joint Exhumation Process (JEP).
Given the success over the years of the JEP, ICMP and the entity government authorities felt the time was ripe to make the leap from an entity-level process to a state-level process. Such a move will strengthen the political viability and operational oversight of the MPI and will result in a more secure and sustainable process for the families of the missing. Most importantly, it will end the current practice in BiH of segregating the search for the missing by ethnic, religious or national group.
The Working Group meeting to draft the Protocol was chaired by representatives of the Ministry for Human Rights and Refugees. The other members of the Working Group include representatives from the entity-level governments and the Brcko District. The next meeting of the Working Group will take place in January 2004.