16 April 2014: A delegation of members of the British House of Lords, human rights activists and public appointees paid a visit to the headquarters and identification facilities of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) in Sarajevo and Tuzla from Monday through Wednesday. The visit is organized by “Remembering Srebrenica”, a UK charitable initiative.
Members of the delegation include: Baroness Hussein-Ece, who in addition to her background in local government is the Liberal Democrats’ gender and equalities spokesperson; Baroness Manzoor, who was the former head of the Commission for Racial Equality, and served as the Legal Services Ombudsman for England and Wales; Baroness Williams who has worked extensively in government and on sub-regional governance issues; lecturer Dr Akil Awan; Dr Krishnan Manocha, Director of the Office of Public Affairs of the Bahá’í community; lawyer, historian and former journalist Dr Farooq Bajwa, and chief executive of Unitas Communications, Muddassar Ahmed.
The delegation also included Baroness Lawrence who was recently named the most powerful woman in the country in a list drawn up for BBC Woman’s Hour. Her eldest son, Stephen, a promising student hoping to study architecture, was murdered in a racist attack in London in 1993. The case gained notoriety in the UK for both the police’s mishandling of the enquiry, and Baroness Lawrence’s tireless fight to win justice for Stephen.
“Hearing and seeing is two different things. Being here in Bosnia and meeting the mothers really brought it home to me. The suffering that the mothers are still going through is unbearable to see. I found visiting the morgue where ICMP staff work most disturbing, and seeing the remains of the unidentified people. May they all rest in peace”, said Baroness Lawrence following the visit.
The delegation was headed by Mr. Iftikhar Awan, Convenor of the Cross-Government Working Group on Tackling Anti-Muslim Hatred.
During the visit, the delegation was introduced to ICMP’s work in Bosnia and Herzegovina, with a specific emphasis on those missing from Srebrenica 1995. The delegation was also introduced to activities that ICMP is carrying out to assist other governments around the world in dealing with the issue of missing persons. Following the visit to ICMP the delegation also toured the Potocari Memorial Center and cemetery where they talked with victim families.
This visit is a part of an initiative by the Chairman of the “Remembering Srebrenica” Dr. Waqar Azmi called “Lessons from Srebrenica” which aims to introduce groups of the UK opinion-makers to Bosnia and Herzegovina and the ICMP.
The ICMP is the only specialized international organization of its kind that addresses the issue of missing persons in all of its facets. The ICMP was created at a G-7 Summit in 1996 to work with governments
and others to help them locate and account for persons missing from the wars of the 1990’s in the former Yugoslavia.