Representatives of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP), the BiH Missing Persons Institute, the Government Commission on Detainees and Missing Persons of the Republic of Croatia and the Government Commission on Missing Persons of the Republic of Serbia met on 8th and 9th December in Bosnia and Herzegovina to discuss how to address the remaining missing persons cases from the conflicts of the 1990’s.
The participants discussed the fact that almost 70 % of the 40,000 persons who were originally missing from the armed conflicts of the 1990’s have been accounted for and acknowledged the fact that the remaining missing persons cases will be increasingly difficult to locate, as additional information regarding their location is diminishing. In addition, the governments in the region discussed the need to deal with a complex set of technical issues regarding cases closed prior to the implementation of ICMP’s DNA-led process in 2001.
The government representatives discussed the need for a regional list on missing persons and the need for bilateral agreements to address missing persons cases. They fully supported ICMP’s initiative to host a regional meeting of Presidents in the spring of 2012 and a regional technical symposium that it will host in early 2013 to deal with challenging cases. Furthermore, the governments agreed to meet on a monthly basis to discuss and implement measures to expedite the process of locating missing persons.
“We talked about models of enhancing the process of searching, especially in cases of mutual interest. In particular, an agreement was reached on the joint survey, the exchange of information on locations, monitoring of exhumations and identification, and other important issues concerning the missing in all three countries. It was also agreed to handover identified remains of the body between Bosnia and Croatia”, said Marko Jurišić, chairman of the MPI’s Board of Directors.
Ivan Grujić, Head of the Commission on Detainees and Missing Persons of the Republic of Croatia, said that this meeting is extremely important for all families of missing from Croatia, Bosnia and Serbia: “We agreed on a mutual delivery of the remains, which were identified through a joint project of identification with the ICMP. At this meeting, we discussed also about complex cases of missing persons, which can be solved only through multilateral cooperation and with the help of the ICMP,” pointed out Grujić.
ICMP’s conference at presidential level that is scheduled for spring 2012 will, as the representatives of the government commissions concluded, contribute to resolution on missing persons issue in the region.
Since November 2001, ICMP has collected information from 89,401 relatives of 29,131 missing people, and has analyzed 36,364 bone samples. By matching DNA from blood and bone samples, ICMP has assisted in the identification of 16,475 people missing from the conflicts.