By Medina Malagić – Sarajevo
The International Day of the Disappeared, celebrated every year on 30 August, will be marked today in B&H.
The Delegation of the EU to B&H/EU Special Representative and the International Commission for Missing Persons (ICMP) in B&H have stated that despite the fact that there has been progress in this area, much more still remains to be done.
‘’Globally, this is an unprecedented achievement. Nowhere in the world after conflict have so many missing persons been located and identified. This is a joint success of the families of missing, the local authorities in B&H and the international community’’, said Head of the EU Delegation/EU Special Representative to B&H Ambassador Peter Sorensen.
However, there are still about 22,000 people in B&H that remain unaccounted for and 9,000 people are still missing as a result from the conflict in this country during the early 1990’s, according to the ICMP Office based in Sarajevo.
”It is critical to the future peace and stability of the region that B&H and the other governments in the region remain vigilant in their efforts to account for the missing regardless of their ethnic, religous or national origin in a transparent and accountable manner”, said Director-General of the ICMP Kathryne Bomberger.
The ICMP and EU Delegation to B&H have formulated several key areas that deserve strenuous attention that is imperative for progress, as well as to ensure rights of survivors.
They recommended that a Central Records of Missing Persons from the conflict be created, since this would be one step closer towards the full implementation of the Law on Missing Persons in B&H, which was passed in 2004. This would create a central database that would include the names of all those that went missing in B&H, allowing B&H authorities to be in unison when it comes to acknowledging the names and number of missing people.
The Fund for Familes of the Missing was also included in the law and has also not yet been created. In addition, the B&H Constitutional Court has also acknowledged that the Law on Missing Persons has not yet been fully implemented in its passage of 15 decisions on the issue of missing persons.
The ICMP has also assisted the B&H authorities in excataving nearly 3,000 mass graves in B&H, and DNA analysis has allowed for the identification of nearly 14,000 people. This would be used as indisputable evidence in court and facilitates the faster prosecution of war crimes cases.
Another area in which progress is being made is the process of carrying out an inventory of 11 mortuaries in B&H that started this year.
On occassion of the International Day of the Disappeared in B&H, the ICMP, Citizen Association ‘Pravo Ljudski’ and the Sarajevo War Theatre SARTR will organize a number of events with the aim of public awareness raising on the issue of missing persons in B&H resulting from armed conflict and other human rights abuses, as wel as in the former Yugoslavia and around the world.
The Latin American Federation of Associations for Relatives of the Detained and Disappeared, a non-governmental organization founded in 1981 in Costa Rica, launched the initiative for the eventual annual marking of the International Day of the Disappeared on 30 August.