All institutions tasked with the search and identification of missing persons must make a strong effort so that the process can be completed as quickly as possible, as this is most important for the families who are searching for their loved ones, the state Prosecutors' Office said in a Wednesday press statement.
The statement came after a meeting between the head of the state Prosecutors' Office, Gordana Tadic, officials from her Special Department for War Crimes, Director of the State Investigation and Protection Agency (SIPA), Perica Stanic, officials from Bosnia's Institute for Missing Persons, representatives from the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) and the Red Cross, and the chief prosecutor at the UN Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (UNMICT), Serge Brammertz.
The UNMICT is tasked with finishing the job of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), which closed its doors last year.
The officials spoke about issues in regard to the exhumation, search and identification process of those still missing after the 1992-1995 war in Bosnia.
"Some 7,000 missing persons are still being searched for in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the search and identification process for missing persons and for their remains, as pieces of evidence, plays an important part in prosecuting cases of war crimes," the Prosecutors' Office said, adding that the process must be accelerated as much as possible, since the families of those missing are searching for their loved ones for the past 23 years.
Prosecutors' Office officials have been involved in 115 exhumation and missing persons search cases across Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2017, which were often conducted in hardly accessible locations, the statement says.
The country has found and identified 80 percent of the persons missing since the Bosnian war, but the number of 7,000 who are currently missing is still equal to 2.5 times the number of persons being searched for in other regional countries.
The key problem standing in the way of the process is a lack of quality information regarding the location of mass graves and individual graves, the Prosecutors' Office said, adding that it is necessary to "work on appealing to all persons who have information" on the whereabouts of such graves, so they provide the relevant institutions with this information.
"Also, it is necessary for there to be clear and continuous political support for the process of finding missing persons, as well as support and trust from the families of the victims for the institutions that do this job," the Prosecutors' Office said.
At the meeting, Brammertz said Bosnia's institutions must continues to intensively work on these activities, and that the UNMICT and the international community will provide support in this process.