27 April 2010
On the Day of Missing Persons in Kosovo, Yves de Kermabon, Head of EULEX, expressed the Mission’s commitment to help solve the issue of the missing.
“Dealing with the legacy of past human rights violations is one of the many challenges facing Kosovo today. Initiatives undertaken to confront impunity and to promote the rule of law by investigating past abuses are important factors towards forging a justice system that advances international human rights standards, restores public confidence, fights impunity and strengthens the fabric of civil society,” said de Kermabon.
Steady progress has been achieved since December 2008 when the EULEX mission was launched in Kosovo. EULEX forensic experts and the Office of the Missing Persons and Forensics (OMPF), through their joined efforts, have conducted 185 field operations where 79 missing persons have been located and identified. 135 remains of the missing plus other victims of the conflict and its aftermath have been forensically examined, identified and returned to families. An exhaustive examination of unidentified remains was begun and is continuing. Over 800 files related to commingled, fragmented and burnt cases have been reviewed. More than 1, 000 bone samples have been selected for further analysis. Additionally, over 130 coordination meetings have been held with family associations, following which a significant number of important leads have been obtained.
The War Crimes Investigations Unit (WCIU) within EULEX is investigating the fate of missing persons and the circumstances of their disappearances. The unit also locates grave sites, collects evidence of crimes related to disappearances, and works on identifying perpetrators and bringing them to justice.
The complex procedures involved in identifying persons includes creation of a person’s biological profile, including sex, age, and a detailed skeletal examination which could lead to identification. DNA analyses are very important in the identification process. The extracted DNA samples from the remains are sent to the laboratory to create a DNA profile which is compared with blood samples of possible relatives.