24 November 2006: Representatives of governments from the former Yugoslavia and representatives of families of missing persons gathered at conference organized by the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) in Brčko today. The conference is forum for families to ask government representatives questions regarding the process of exhumations, identifications and rights of surviving family members of the missing. Members of the Bosnia and Herzegovina Presidency opened the conference and visited a recently opened mass grave in Brčko where ICMP forensic anthropologists and archeologists are providing assistance to local expert teams.While visiting the mass grave site in Brčko, President Haris Silajdžić said: “We will do all we can to bring to justice all those who planed and executed any crime”. Upon opening the conference, President Željko Komšić stated that the truth must be known. “Every attempt to address the truth is doomed to failure unless each of us faces the truth about the events of the recent past”, he said.
The issue of missing persons continues to haunt the region where there are 20,000 persons missing of the 40,000 who went missing during the conflict.
Regardless of their religious or national background, representatives of family associations of missing persons publicly demanded answers from government representatives on the whereabouts of their loved ones.
Representatives of regional governments’ institutions for tracing of missing persons, including Ivan Grujić from Croatia, Veljko Odalović from Serbia, Marko Jurišić and Milan Bogdanić from Bosnia and Herzegovina, expressed their understanding of the suffering of the families of missing persons, said to families they are doing their best.
“While much credit should go to the families of missing and the governments in the region for creating institutions and Law on Missing Persons, as well as literally uncovering hundreds of mass graves”, ICMP Director General Kathryne Bomberger stated, “we are only half way there”.
To date ICMP has collected over 82,000 blood samples, which accounts for over 27,000 different people. In addition, ICMP has assisted in making over 10,000 identifications using DNA.
The three-day conference will end of Saturday 25 November, when the conclusion and recommendations will be presented to the public.