Chairman Smith Introduces Bill Promoting Closure For Families of Missing Persons

ACBH commends Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ), Congressional Caucus on Bosnia Co-Chair and Chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (U.S. Helsinki Commission), for introducing legislation to authorize the U.S. Secretary of State to further the efforts at the United Nations in order to establish an international legal standing for International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP).      

In February of 2012, Congressman Smith held a hearing on missing persons where Amor Masovic, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Missing Persons Institute of Bosnia and Herzegovina testified alongside Her Majesty, Queen Noor of Jordan, Commissioner of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP), and others. ICMP is headquartered in Sarajevo, BiH. In addition to its work in the countries of the former Yugoslavia, ICMP is now actively involved in helping governments and other institutions in various parts of the world address social and political issues related to missing persons and works to establish effective identification systems that can be used to identify persons that go missing due to conflicts or natural disasters.     


Congressman Smith's bill, the International Commission on Missing Persons Assistance Act of 2012 (H.R. 4344), would allow ICMP to provide assistance on a global scale in identifying and locating those persons that are missing as a result of conflict and disaster. The identification process would be carried out through DNA technologies that ICMP has developed in the western Balkans since the 1990s.     


"No other organization can fill this role – and if the ICMP isn't given the status it requires to 'go global,' its institutional capacity could be lost, due to the winding-up of its work in the Balkans and the lack of clarity in its legal status elsewhere," said Chairman Smith. "Because of the sensitive information the ICMP acquires in the process of identifying missing persons, it cannot simply work with governments outside the western Balkans.  H.R. 4344 will ensure that the ICMP obtains the internationally-recognized legal status necessary to carry out its mandate globally – wherever governments need assistance in locating and identifying missing persons."