Sarajevo, 29 October 2019: Parliamentarians and trade unionists from Sweden visited the facilities of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) in Bosnia and Herzegovina, today to learn more about ICMP’s work and about the missing persons issue in the Western Balkans.
The visitors were briefed on ICMP’s cross-cutting programs that help civil society networks advocate for truth, justice and the rights of families of the missing, and support legislative and institutional initiatives to sustain an impartial and effective missing persons process.
The group visited the Podrinje Identification Project (PIP), which was created to assist in the identification of persons missing from the the fall of the Srebrenica and Zepa UN Safe Areas in July 1995. With ICMP assistance, 7,000 of the 8,000 victims of the Srebrenica Genocide have been accounted for so far.
ICMP Senior Forensic Anthropologist Dragana Vucetic explained the methodical process through which human remains exhumed from mass graves are identified. She noted that by applying the latest developments in forensic science it has been possible to establish the identity of victims conclusively “so that there is no basis for genocide denial.” She said this was “essential in establishing a truthful record and essential in upholding the rights of survivors”.
More than 40,000 persons went missing during the conflicts of the 1990s in the Western Balkans. Since 1996, ICMP has spearheaded an effort that has made it possible to account for well over 70 percent of the missing, a ratio that has not been equaled anywhere in the world.
The visitors were briefed on ICMP’s Integrated Database Management System (iDMS), which collects, stores, protects and shares data on missing persons securely, and which is accessible from anywhere in the world using ICMP’s Online Inquiry Center (OIC). The OIC can be accessed at http://bit.ly/334T7Ci
Magnus Manhammar, Member of the Swedish Parliament, stated that the conflict in the Western Balkans is an important part of the common history of humankind. “What happened in Srebrenica, thanks to the work of ICMP, has to be a lesson for all of us in order not to let it happen ever again, anywhere,” he said.
Since 2002, Sweden has generously supported ICMP’s Western Balkans Program, allocating more than 23,000,000 SEK to enable ICMP to help the authorities to account for the missing, which is a central and indispensable element in consolidating peace and restoring the rule of law.
ICMP is a treaty-based international organization with Headquarters in The Hague, the Netherlands. Its mandate is to secure the cooperation of governments and others in locating 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.