News 18 Oct 12

Balkan Countries to Form Missing Persons Database

Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Croatia have agreed to create a regional database of persons missing from the 1990's wars.

Denis Dzidic
BIRN
Sarajevo

Representatives of the Bosnian, Serbian and Croatian governmental bodies tasked with the search for missing persons have met at a conference in Lukavac organised by the International Commission on Missing Persons, ICPM, to discuss the need to improve regional cooperation.

The participants agreed that Bosnia, Croatia and Serbia should sign bilateral agreements on cooperation concerning the search for missing persons, and create one, common database for all missing people in the region.

Ivan Grujic, the president of the Croatian government commission on detained and missing persons, argues that agreement to create a regional database is vital, not only to the search for missing persons, but to working out the exact number   of people still missing since the 1990’s.

“I am also very satisfied with the implementation of common regional identification projects, which have helped us identify a large number of cases, and we hope such projects can continue”, said Grujic.

Amor Masovic, a member of the Board of Directors of the Bosnian Institute, also believes that regional initiatives are the only way to speed-up the search for missing persons.

“The signing of agreements on cooperation between Bosnia and Croatia and Bosnia and Serbia will certainly improve projects where there is shared responsibility over exhumations and finally solve the missing persons issue in the region,” said Masovic.

Zorica Avramovic, a representative of the Serbian government Commission on Missing Persons added that the “common methodology and transparency” used by all missing persons institutions in the region is producing “positive results”.  

According to ICPM estimates, around 40,000 people were declared missing during and after the conflict in the former Yugoslavia. It is estimated that 30,000 went missing in Bosnia, 6,500 in Croatia and less than five thousand in Kosovo. The search continues for around 30 per cent of those declared missing.

The participants at the conference have agreed to meet again towards the end of the year to finalize work on the creation of the regional database of missing persons.

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