Governments Do Little to Expedite the Search for the Missing

As many as ten thousand families in the region of former Yugoslavia still seek relatives who went missing during the country’s violent break-up in the nineties, the chief prosecutor of the war crimes court in The Hague told the UN Security Council in New York.

Prosecutor Serge Brammertz of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals told the UNSC that only three cases remain – the Radovan Karadžić appeal is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2018, while the Stanišić and Simatović trial and Ratko Mladić appeal are expected to be completed by the end of 2020.

Brammertz briefed the UNSC about the search for missing persons in the former Yugoslavia. He noted that many stakeholders have taken the initiative to raise this issue with the Office of the Prosecutor and seek its assistance.

“Efforts are urgently needed to strengthen the search for missing persons. 10,000 families – from all sides – still do not know the fate of their loved ones.”

The International Committee of the Red Cross is launching a five-year strategy to support the search for missing persons. However, Brammertz said, “governments have made many commitments to support this work that remain only on paper.”

“Political will is also needed to create the conditions for witnesses to come forward with information,” Brammertz said, “The search for missing persons is a humanitarian imperative. It is time for political authorities to be accountable for their commitments, and to show the courage to put aside all other considerations.”

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