Srebrenica: No Room for Revisionism

The Hague, 15 February: In August 2018, the Republika Srpska (RS) National Assembly annulled the “Report of the Commission for Investigation of the Events in and around Srebrenica between 10 and 19 July 1995”, which had been produced for the RS Government in 2004. The current RS Government has now announced the setting up of two new commissions to investigate events in and around Srebrenica and in Sarajevo during the conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

For more than two decades, the International Commission on Missing persons (ICMP) has led the effort to account for those who went missing during the conflict and to uphold the rights of families of the missing to truth, justice and reparations, regardless of national, ethnic or religious affiliation. The facts established by the RS Government Report 15 years ago have been confirmed by international and domestic criminal courts, and they are supported by systematic forensic work conducted by ICMP.

More than 8,000 persons were reported missing from the fall of the Srebrenica and Zepa UN Safe Areas in July 1995. Of this number, 6,979 have been identified using DNA; just 84 were identified before ICMP introduced the DNA-led process of human identification in 2001. DNA identifications are based on a minimum certainty of 99.95 percent. This means that the identity of the vast majority of persons who went missing in Srebrenica and Zepa has been scientifically and conclusively established.

ICMP scientific data concerning persons missing from the fall of Srebrenica has been admitted in evidence at trials before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and courts in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The evidence has been examined in minute detail numerous times. In the case of the Prosecutor vs. Radovan Karadzic, a random and representative group of more than 1,000 family members of persons reported missing from Srebrenica and Zepa provided their genetic data, and that of their missing relatives, to the accused to allow his legal and scientific experts to verify the DNA evidence that their relatives are among those missing from the fall of Srebrenica. The evidence has been consistently upheld in trial.

In Bosnia and Herzegovina as a whole, around 75 percent of persons reported missing as a consequence of the conflicts of the 1990s have now been accounted for. One of the biggest obstacles to locating and identifying the remaining 7,000 persons from the BIH conflicts is the lack of information on possible locations of mass and clandestine graves. ICMP fully supports allocating resources to renewed efforts that could lead to more information in respect of missing persons. These efforts will have no bearing on the established historical fact, upheld by the ICTY and the International Court of Justice, that genocide was committed in Srebrenica.

ICMP has worked with the all countries in the former Yugoslavia to support their efforts to locate and identify missing persons from the conflicts of the 1990s. More than 70 percent of the 40,000 persons missing, from all national, ethnic and religious groups have been accounted for with ICMP’s assistance. ICMP has also worked with all governments to ensure that mechanisms are in place to secure the rights of all families of the missing, regardless of the circumstances of their disappearance.

Governments and political authorities must continue to work together to resolve the remaining missing persons cases and to ensure that reliable and accurate information is provided to families and the public.

ICMP is a treaty-based intergovernmental organization with Headquarters in The Hague, the Netherlands. 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.

The Agreement on the Status and Functions of the International Commission on Missing Persons is open to accession by all States. So far, Belgium, Chile, Cyprus, El Salvador, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Serbia, Sweden and the United Kingdom have signed the ICMP Treaty.

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