Srebrenica Genocide 23 Years Later Truth and Justice the Only Way Forward

The Hague, 11 July 2018: Twenty-three years after the Srebrenica Genocide, it is crucial to uphold a truthful narrative of what happened, and to continue efforts to account for those who are still missing and to bring those who were responsible to justice, ICMP Director-General Kathryne Bomberger said today.

“Today, ICMP stands with the families who are burying their loved ones,” Ms Bomberger said. “ICMP stands with the families of the disappeared and with all those who are fighting for truth, for justice and for reparation.”

The murder of 8,000 men and boys after the fall of Srebrenica in July 1995 is the only recognized genocide on European soil since World War Two. ICMP introduced a DNA-led identification process that has made it possible to account for 6,940 victims of the genocide, almost 90 percent. Today, 35 victims identified in the last 12 months were laid to rest at the Potocari Memorial Center outside Srebrenica.

For more information on the identification of victims of the Srebrenica genocide, please see:

Ms Bomberger said ICMP’s role in helping the countries of the former Yugoslavia to account for the estimated 40,000 persons missing in the Western Balkans from the conflict of the 1990s has helped to establish a factual account of crimes that were committed. More than 70 percent of those who were missing in the region have been accounted for, an achievement that has not been equaled anywhere in the world.

ICMP has provided forensic evidence to the International Criminal tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and to courts in Bosnia and Herzegovina and elsewhere in the Western Balkans. To date, a total of 20 individuals have been tried at the ICTY for crimes related to Srebrenica. Of these, 14 have been convicted. The BiH State Court has put 55 individuals on trial for crimes related to Srebrenica and 37 have been convicted.

In addition to providing state-of-the-art DNA identification capacity, ICMP helped the BIH authorities to develop the Law on Missing Persons, adopted in 2004, which created a clear legal framework for securing the rights of surviving families and a legal basis for the establishment of a Fund for the Families of the Missing, and for the creation of Central Records on Missing Persons. It also helped countries in the region build purpose specific missing persons institutions to locate and identify missing persons regardless of ethnic, religious or national origin and to excavate more than 3,000 mass and clandestine graves in accordance with international standards, so that evidence could be used in both domestic and international courts.

Ms Bomberger also stressed that ICMP’s Western Balkans program will continue to assist in locating the approximately 12,000 persons who are still missing in the region, including the 1,000 persons still missing from Srebrenica.

On 10 July, in London, leaders of the countries in the region and EU members states that are participating in the Berlin Process signed a Joint Declaration, which, among other things, reiterates their commitment to supporting efforts to account for those who are still missing from the conflicts in former Yugoslavia. The document cites ICMP’s Declaration on the Role of the State in Addressing the Issue of Persons Missing as a Consequence of Armed Conflict and Human Rights Abuses, signed in 2014 by the Presidents of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia, which recognizes the centrality of resolving the fate of the missing in a manner that is commensurate with human rights and the rule of law.

ICMP is a treaty-based international organization with headquarters in The Hague. Its mandate is to secure the cooperation of governments and others in locating and identifying missing persons from conflict, human rights abuses, disasters, organized crime, irregular migration and other causes and to assist them in doing so. It is the only international organization tasked exclusively to work on the issue of missing persons. ICMP has spearheaded an effort of more than 20 years to account for the missing from the conflicts in former Yugoslavia.