On 24 May 2017 the conference was held under the title - The process of exhumation and identification of missing persons on the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina -. The conference was initiated by the Regional coordination of associations of families of missing persons from former Yugoslavia, which brings together 18 associations and unions from the former Yugoslavia.
This is the second conference dedicated to the issue of unidentified mortal remains in morgues and memorial ossuaries in Bosnia and Herzegovina,
about which a dialogue was initiated at the meeting in December 2015. The main recommendations from the meeting, as agreed by all participants, was that the question of possible wrong identifications, before the introduction of DNA testing, must be resolved through a massive collection of reference blood samples and development of a systematic plan to start this process.
The conference aims at speeding up the process of searching for missing persons, and informing family members and the general public about the problems and obstacles that challenge the process.
Conference participants were representatives of associations of families of missing persons from the territory of BiH, members of the Board of Regional coordination, prosecutors from different levels of prosecutors' offices in BiH, the Board of Directors of the Institute for Missing Persons of Bosnia and Herzegovina, SIPA, the Commission for Missing Persons of the Government of Republic of Serbia, Ministry of Veterans of the Republic of Croatia - Directorate for detained and missing Persons, ICMP, ICRC and the Red Cross Society of BiH.
After words of welcome and introductory speech, the Chairperson of the Regional Coordination Ms. Olgica Božanić started the conference with the theme: "Current status of the process of exhumation and identification of missing persons at the territory of BiH".
Thematic presentations in the first part of the Conference were held by: Mr. Marko Jurišić, Board of Directors of the Institute for Missing Persons of BiH; Mr. Veljko Odalović, President of the Commission for Missing Persons of the Government of the Republic of Serbia; Mrs Višnja Bilić, Head of Sector for Tracing Persons Detained and Missing in the Homeland War - Directorate for Detained and Missing Ministries of Croatian Defenders; Prosecutor Izet Odobašić, Prosecutor's Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina; Federal Prosecutor Munib Halilović, Federation Prosecutor's Office of the Federation BiH; Expert associate Džinović Alma, Prosecutor's Office of Brčko District BiH; Police Officer Novak Mijović, Ministry of Security of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Head of Intelligence and Analytical department.
After discussions, questions and comments, participants were informed on undertaken measures and action taken by responsible government authorities, international organizations and NGOs to identify mortal remains in morgues and memorial ossuaries in Bosnia and Herzegovina: Mr. Matthew Holliday, Program Manager for Western Balkans, International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP); Mr. Marko Jurišić, Ms. Trishna Mocktan, Deputy Regional Coordinator for Missing Persons, Missing Persons International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Sarajevo, and Mr. Branko Leko, Secretary General of the Red Cross Society of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Conference ended up with adopted conclusions and press conferences.
Among other things, participants of the Regional Coordination of the Association of Families of Missing Persons from the Territory of the Former Yugoslavia concluded that the process of tracing missing persons is not conducted as expected by members of their families and that the political will and the level of awareness of the complete BiH society need to be raised to address this problem; It has been emphasized that the Institute has undertaken a series of actions to provide relevant information on the locations of the graves, along with ongoing cooperation with the missing persons institutions, but not yet receiving the expected results; The importance of common approaches and observations in the process of tracing the missing persons has been emphasized, and the regional mechanism is characterized as the only possible one; A priority for the process of tracing the missing persons in BiH is to seek new hidden graves as well as to gain insight into the state of morgue in BiH with unidentified remains. ICMP helps the relevant institutions in BiH in this process.
Member of the Regional Steering Committee of the Regional Coordination, Ms. Olgica Božanić will submit conclusions from the conference aimed at accelerating the search for missing persons in BiH, to the competent institutions.
Among other things, the meeting of Regional Coordination Delegations with members of the BiH Presidency and the Council of Ministers of BiH will be requested and they will be informed that without their support the process of tracing missing persons will not develop with the desired intensity.