Regional campaign launched to commemorate International Day of the Disappeared

International Day of the Disappeared

28 August 2009: The Parliamentary Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina will mark the International Day of the Disappeared by organizing a special parliamentary session on 31st August to commemorate the day and to push for the implementation of the Law on Missing Persons and the establishment of a fund for families of the missing. The session will be the highlight of a series of events held across the country and the region, aimed at building public awareness of the universal nature of the problem of missing persons in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Croatia and Kosovo.

The International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP), along with the Missing Persons Institute (MPI) of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has, for the second year running, organized a 30th August campaign called ‘I have the right to know,’ which provides a special opportunity to raise the profile of the issue of missing persons as a problem across society. It will ensure the inclusion of a broad range of civil society groups in these activities, and on 31st August, a large number of Family Associations of relatives of missing persons will stage a peaceful protest walk in central Sarajevo following the parliamentary session. Events will also be held in Belgrade, Pristina and in Osijek, Croatia.

“On The International Day of the Disappeared, it is important to stress that the issue of missing persons and the human suffering that accompanies it is a universal human rights  problem. ICMP continues to be committed to assisting governments and civil society, including the relatives of the missing, in dealing with and resolving this issue,” said Ms.Kathryne Bomberger, ICMP Director-General.

The special session of the Parliamentary Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina Parliament will not only see parliamentarians actively involved in the problem of missing persons, but will give an opportunity to family members of the missing to put questions to their political representatives in an open forum. Mr. Sadik Ahmetovic, Chairman of the Joint Commission for Human Rights, Rights of Children, Youth, Immigration, Refugees, Asylum, and Ethics will open the session and give an introductory speech. The media have offered promotional coverage, while a special poster display in Bosnian towns and cities will highlight the campaign.

An estimated 40,000 people went missing as a result of the conflicts of the 1990’s in the former Yugoslavia, approximately 30,000 of them in Bosnia-Herzegovina. By using its world-class DNA-assisted identification system ICMP has resolved the fate of nearly 15,000 of those missing regionally, nearly 12,600 of whom are from Bosnia and Herzegovina. In BiH an additional 6,000 to 8,000 cases were closed prior to the use of DNA, and thus some 8,000 to 10,000 cases remain open in the country, and the mortal remains of those still missing lie scattered in mass graves and burial sites, fourteen years after the cessation of conflicts. 12,000 to14,000 people remain missing regionally.

ICMP endeavours to secure the cooperation of governments and other authorities worldwide in locating and identifying persons missing from armed conflicts, human rights violations and natural disasters; it currently assists governments in the Western Balkans, Iraq, Colombia, Chile, the Philippines and Kuwait.

The International Day of the Disappeared is an annual, global event that takes place on 30th August to commemorate persons who have disappeared as a consequence of armed conflict, crimes against humanity or other violations of human rights and whose fate and whereabouts are unknown.

I Have the Right to Know.