The European Union will continue its support to the International Commission on Missing Persons’ (ICMP) ongoing assistance to Bosnia and Herzegovina’s (BiH) authorities in their work to locate and identify persons who are still missing from the 1990s conflict. Under the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance, the European Union is providing €3 million to enable continuation of ICMP work over the next three years.
The new funding will enable ICMP to conduct a policy dialogue with the BiH authorities and families of the missing with the goal of building BiH capacities in DNA testing. ICMP will also continue to assist BiH with forensic expertise, including the recovery of mortal remains from mass and clandestine graves and support in conducting DNA-based identifications.
“The EU’s continuous assistance to the ICMP aims to support their efforts in addressing unresolved fates of missing persons as well as in helping the authorities to fulfil their obligations towards the families of the missing. The families have right to know the fate and whereabouts of their missing relatives. This is not only our common moral duty but it would also contribute to strengthening the rule of law, peace and stability in the country,” said Ambassador Johann Sattler, Head of the EU Delegation and EU Special Representative in BiH.
The EU and ICMP will continue assisting the BiH Missing Persons Institute and the Prosecutors’ Office in addressing NN cases and possible misidentifications through additional reference sample collection and technical forensic anthropological assistance in mortuaries, in cooperation with the regional governments.
“The funds from the European Union will enable ICMP to help BiH authorities to fulfil their legal obligation to investigate cases of missing persons from the conflict resulting in finding the highest number of persons in a post-conflict scenario. Thousands remain missing and efforts to account for them must continue. In addition, BiH has obligations under domestic and international law to secure the rights of the families of the missing that must be met, including full implementation of the BiH Law on Missing Persons,” said Matthew Holliday, Head of ICMP Western Balkans Program.
ICMP-led efforts have made it possible to account for more than 70 percent of the estimated 40,000 people who were missing at the end of the 1990s conflict in the former Yugoslavia.
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 missing persons from conflict, human rights abuses, disasters, organized crime, irregular migration and other causes and to assist them in doing so. It is tasked exclusively to work on the issue of missing persons.