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Rights group urges Balkan authorities to investigate disappearances

Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] on Wednesday urged [press release] authorities in the former Yugoslavia to investigate the enforced disappearances of 14,000 people who are still unaccounted for since the civil war in the 1990s. The report [text, PDF] comes as the mandate for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) [official website] is coming to an end. AI claims that domestic governments have not taken the necessary steps to identify and prosecute the individuals responsible for the abductions and enforced disappearances. AI points out obstacles to investigating and prosecuting alleged war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity, specifically citing instances where members of the government, military or police are suspects. The report provides specific cases of enforced disappearances and abductions and also makes a number of recommendations for the governments of Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Kosovo. In addition, the report states:

Amnesty International Urges the European Commission through the accession process to: ensure progress is made towards ending impunity for enforced disappearances and abductions. This includes progress towards ensuring the right to justice and to adequate and effective reparation for the victims of enforced disappearances and abductions and their relatives.
Between 1991 and 2001 approximately 34,700 people were reported missing due to enforced disappearances or abductions during the civil war in the former Yugoslavia and are awaiting justice.

The ICTY has been prosecuting various individuals for war crimes committed during the civil war in the former Yugoslavia. Last week prosecutors at the ICTY sought a life sentence [JURIST report] for former Bosnian Serb army commander Zdravko Tolimir, who served under Ratko Mladic [JURIST news archive] during the Bosnian civil war. Earlier this month the ICTY announced that former Serb official Mile Mrksic has been transferred to a Portuguese prison [JURIST report] to serve his 20-year sentence for war crimes. Earlier this month former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic [JURIST news archive] asked the ICTY for a new trial [JURIST report], accusing prosecutors of delaying the disclosure of crucial information.

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