Hearing :: Healing the Wounds of Conflict and Disaster: Clarifying the Fate of Missing Persons in the OSCE Area


Commission on Security & Cooperation in Europe:  
U.S. Helsinki Commission

Healing the Wounds of the Conflict and Disaster:
Clarifying the Fate of Missing Persons in the OSCE Area

Her Majesty Queen Noor,
International Commission on Missing Persons

Shawn A. Bray,
Deputy Director,
Interpol Washington,
U.S. National Central Bureau

Amor Masovic,
Member of the Board of Directors,
Missing Persons Institute of Bosnia and Herzegovina 

Ms. Fatima Tlisova, Writer/Editor/Producer, Voice of America

The Hearing Was Held at 2:00 p.m. in Room 2172, Rayburn House Office Building, 
Washington, D.C., 
Representative Christopher Smith (R-NJ) Moderating 

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Transcript by
Federal News Service
Washington, D.C. 
REPRESENTATIVE CHRISTOPHER H. SMITH (R-NJ):  The commission will come to order, 
and good afternoon to everybody.  Today we will hear testimony on how 
governments and NGOs can more successfully identify and locate persons missing 
as a result of conflict, disasters, crimes such as human trafficking, and other 
violations of human rights; and hold accountable those responsible for 
perpetrating atrocities.

Across the OSCE, thousands of families await knowledge of what happened to a 
relative from these causes – (inaudible) – and humanitarian need that we cannot 
ignore.  And of course this tragedy is replicated all over the world, where 
people are lost and loved ones try to ascertain:  Where are they?  Are they 
dead or alive?  And that’s why we meet today.

This commission has not ignored this need over the years.  Particularly since 
the mid-1990s we have held many hearings and have had fact-finding missions 
that have touched on missing persons from the conflicts in and between 
countries of the former Yugoslavia.  And both the International Commission on 
Missing and – Persons and the Missing Persons Institute of Bosnia and 
Herzegovina have appeared here before as commission witnesses.

Frank Wolf and I visited the Western Balkans, including Vukovar, in August of 
1991 – and Srebrenica when the region was still engulfed in ethnic hatred.  And 
I returned to Srebrenica in July of 2007, where – more than 10 years after the 
genocide – I saw the coffins prepared for burial with the remains of hundreds 
of men slaughtered in 1995, recently identified through the technologies 
developed by the International Commission on Missing Persons.  I’ll never 
forget the words of Ray Search (ph) as he spoke at a very solemn ceremony, 
talking about the need for reconciliation but also the need for justice, as he 
tried to comfort many of those survivors and loved ones who were there at that 
internment ceremony.

But it is time also to take stock of this need – what governments and NGOs have 
done to respond to it, or have not done.  And I think about how that response 
can be further improved.  The greatest concerted effort that has been made 
within the OSCE is to identify and locate missing persons was in the Western 
Balkans in the conflicts of the 1990s.

More than 15 years after the end of the Bosnian conflict, and more than 10 
years since the end of the heaviest fighting in Kosovo, most of the missing 
persons have been identified and located.  We are in a position to take stock 
of those efforts there, and how lessons learned can be applied elsewhere:  for 
example, in sub-Saharan Africa, where the number of missing persons is 
absolutely staggering.

I particularly want to draw attention to the magnificent work of the 
International Commission on Missing Persons, which has now located and returned 
the remains of over 18,000 victims of war alone, and is now in danger of losing 
ground gained because of difficulties over its legal status.  One of the 
purposes of this hearing is to learn more about how we can support the ongoing 
work of the ICMP.  At this moment I am preparing to introduce legislation that 
would call on the secretary of state to make every effort to advance at the 
U.N. a proposal for a permanent and internationally recognized legal status for 
the ICMP, so that it can carry out its mandate on a global scale.

I want to thank our distinguished witnesses for being here today:  Queen Noor 
for making a very special effort to be here and to provide testimony for this 
commission, which will give us additional information to act upon.

Finally, as the author of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act and its 
re-authorizations, I look forward to discussing with the witnesses the 
trafficking aspects of the missing persons tragedy:   the identification and 
location of persons missing because they have been trafficked either on – in 
sex trafficking or in labor trafficking.  I’d like to now yield to my good 
friend and colleague, Mr. Cohen, for any opening comments you might have.

REPRESENTATIVE STEVE COHEN (D-TN):  Thank you, Mr. Chairman.  I just appreciate 
your hosting this hearing and having such a distinguished panel.  The idea of 
missing persons in this age and time is anathema to civilized world, civilized 
society.  And I know – I, as a – I was a history major and have always been 
curious about Raoul Wallenberg (and is ?) one of the missing persons of – after 
World War II – and why the Soviets apparently took him, must have imprisoned 
him – I mean, it’s not really clear.  But his whereabouts were unknown.

We’ve been concerned about our missing-in-action folks in Vietnam, and continue 
to, and want them – to know where they are, and bring them home if they’re to 
be alive – and, if not, their remains. People want a resting place for their 
loved ones.  It – that is a very important part of the healing process, and 
part of the family that they want to take care of the – their family members, 
even if they’ve been killed, and see that they’re given a proper burial.

These particular instances where we see trafficking and people taking away – we 
have to find a way to use our scientific resources, which are great – our 
ability to conjure the sciences for DNA technologies and other opportunities to 
identify people – and use them to clear up mysteries and have a definity (ph) 
to the outcomes of war and crime.  So with that, I just appreciate the 
opportunity to hear from the panel, to see what we can do as a commission, and 
thank the chairman for his work in scheduling the committee, and yield back the 
balance of my time.

REP. SMITH:  Mr. Cohen, thank you very much.  Dr. Burgess.

REPRESENTATIVE MICHAEL C. BURGESS (R-TX):  Thank you, Mr. Chairman.  And I – 
thanks for the recognition; thanks for calling this hearing.  The existence of 
missing persons is unfortunately one of the many lingering effects of the 
conflicts and turmoil that have happened in several areas over which this 
commission has observation for the last few decades.  From the Balkans to the 
Caucasus to Cyprus, far too many people remain unaccounted, a fate that 
torments their families wondering about their status and their wellbeing.

The reasons for disappearance of individuals have multiple sources, from armed 
conflicts to human trafficking.  At a state level we can try to prevent wars.  
But the astonishing cruelty associated with other activities like human 
trafficking have alluded governments, and we must do more to combat the blight.

I’ll also just say, on a personal note – although it’s not the subject of this 
commission’s hearing today – I did have the opportunity to accompany General 
James Conway to a mass grave site just outside the city of Al Hillah in Iraq in 
2003, in an area that had just recently been opened up to the families.  And I 
will never forget the pain that you could see etched on the faces of the 
families while they searched, sometimes with their bare hands, for evidence of 
a loved one that might have been interred in that – in that grave that was 
estimated to contain 200,000 Shiite Muslims.

There have been some advances in piecing together clues to resolve the status 
of missing persons.  In Cyprus, United Nations and other groups have helped the 
two communities come together, identify some missing persons for the last few 
decades.  But there is still so much to do.  I hope the information that we 
hear from our witnesses today, and the work that this commission is doing, can 
help find those who are missing and prevent misfortune from happening in the 
future.  Again, Mr. Chairman, it’s an important subject, and I appreciate the 
recognition.  I yield back.

REP. SMITH:  Dr. Burgess, thank you very much.  We are now also joined by the 
chairman of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly:  Mr. Turner, gentleman from Ohio.

REPRESENTATIVE MICHAEL TURNER (R-OH):  Thank you, Mr. Chairman.  Thank you for 
having this important hearing.  And I want to thank the witnesses for their 
highlighting what is an important issue as we look to the aftermath at – of 
times of conflict.  I was talking to Mr. Mašovi? and to Queen Noor that my 
community is Dayton, Ohio, where the Dayton peace accords were negotiated that 
brought peace to the Balkans.  And from that, my community has an affinity for 
Bosnia and of course for the people there and the tragedy that ensued.

My first trip to Bosnia was in July of 1996 with commerce secretary Mickey 
Kantor, as a follow-on to the tragic Ron Brown trip.  Since then, in my 
community, Dayton is a sister city to Sarajevo.  And many of our institutions 
are twinned – hospitals, universities.  I had the opportunity, as the chairman 
was describing, a couple years ago to be at Srebrenica, where 535 bodies were 
returned to families for proper burial.

And I was struck, as the chairman said, of the peace that you could sense with 
the families as they received the remains of their loved ones – (inaudible) – 
or identified by funding that the United States had provided, to try to bring 
an end to the wondering that people have of what happened to their loved ones, 
and to give them that sense of closure.

What you’re doing in raising this issue is so important because it brings also 
the issue of responsibility.  So many times where there has been a tragedy, and 
without the requisite proof, justice is also something that is not forthcoming. 
 So I appreciate your work on an international level, and to highlight the need 
for this – not just in the Balkans, but as we look to conflicts throughout our 
globe.  Thank you.

REP. SMITH:  Chairman Turner, thank you very much.  I’d like to now introduce 
our distinguished witnesses, beginning with – and it is the high honor and 
extraordinary privilege for this commission to welcome Her Majesty Queen Noor – 
who is an active patron, president and board member of numerous national and 
international organizations, including the United Nations organizations in the 
areas of mother and child health, education and women’s development, 
environmental protection, culture and public architecture and planning.

In recognition of her efforts to advance development, democracy and peace, the 
queen has been awarded numerous honorary doctorates in international relations 
law and humane letters, as well as other international awards.  She heads the 
Noor Al Hussein Foundation, which was established in 1985 to support 
development through education, environment and cultural initiatives.  And her 
majesty became a commissioner of the International Commission on Missing 
Persons in June of 2001.

We then hear from Shawn Bray, who was appointed as the deputy director of 
Interpol Washington, a component of the U.S. Department of Justice in February 
of 2010.  In this capacity Mr. Bray represents the U.S. Department of Homeland 
Security as its senior ranking official at Interpol Washington.  He is 
responsible for managing law enforcement agents, analysts and various 
specialists who operate in divisions dedicated to specific investigative areas: 
 alien, fugitive, economic, crimes, drugs, terrorism, environment crimes, human 
trafficking and child protection, counterterrorism, state and local liaison 
operations.  Very busy man.  (Chuckles.)

We’ll then hear from Mr. Amor Mašovi?, who is their chairman of the Bosnian 
Federal Commission for Missing Persons.  He is a member of parliament of the 
Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and a member of the International 
Association of Genocide Scholars.  As chairman of the Commission for Missing 
Persons, he is responsible for maintaining the records of individuals then 
missing since the Bosnian war.  Efforts to trace such individuals – recording 
and identification of bodily remains; investigation of mass and individual 
graves; cooperation with local courts in conducting – exhuming, autopsies, 
identification; and evidence gathering in cooperation with U.N. specialized 
agencies and other international and national organizations.

We’ll hear then from Ms. Fatima Tlisova, who is currently a writer, editor and 
producer of Voice of America’s Russian service.  She is also – has experience 
as an investigative journalist, researcher and expert on the Northern Caucasus 
region of Russia.  She has written extensively on Circassian nationalism, the 
role of Islam in regional affairs, human rights abuses during the military 
operations in the North Caucasus, torture, disappearances and corruptions.  She 
was editor-in-chief of Regnum News Agency, worked as a special correspondent in 
Gazeta, and reported for RFVRL (ph) and for the Associated Press.  She has also 
appeared twice before our commission to witness on human rights and media 
freedoms in Russia.

Queen Noor, the – yield to you for – (inaudible) – such time as you may consume.

HER MAJESTY QUEEN NOOR AL HUSSEIN:  Thank you.  Mr. Chairman, members of the 
U.S. Helsinki Commission, thank you for using this occasion to highlight the 
issue of persons missing from wars, violations of human rights, natural 
disasters.  Thank you as well for inviting me – as a commissioner of the ICMP, 
the International Commission on Missing Persons – to address an issue that I 
believe deserves much more attention than it receives.

The missing are silent.  They cannot plead their own cause.  By definition, and 
often by design, there are no horrific images or messages in the media to 
galvanize public outrage.  And they do not tweet from the scene, nor set up 
Facebook pages to organize protests.  They are simply gone.

When people go missing, particularly through state-sanctioned violence, the 
family members left behind – usually women and children – are terrified to seek 
answers about the fate of their loved ones.  In most of the world today, family 
members have no legal recourse to demand answers.  Those brave enough to ask 
often fear reprisals from the very authorities responsible for the 
disappearance in the first place, or who are seeking to cover up the crimes of 
previous regimes.  After all, it is a fundamental tenet of systems of law that, 
if there is no body, there is no crime.

And so the silence persists.  Breaking that silence is a vital part of dealing 
with the past following violent conflict.  It is important for reconciliation, 
nation-building, and securing peaceful future.  It is critical for the healing 
process of the families left behind.  Most importantly, addressing the problem 
of the missing is crucial to preventing future conflict.

Mr. Chairman, ICMP estimates that in the world today there are 1 million 
persons missing from war, violations of human rights, human trafficking, 
drug-related violence and other causes; and that approximately 150,000 persons 
go missing every year from natural or manmade disasters.  They, and those who 
mourn them, need help to break the silence.

Mass graves are like open wounds.  If these crimes are left unresolved, they 
breed hatred and can perpetuate a cycle of violence.  The legacies of these 
crimes, particularly in the former Yugoslavia, are a painful reminder of that 
fact.  It remains in the interest of the United States to help stop the cycle 
of violence by assisting post-conflict states in resolving the problem of the 

The International Commission on Missing Persons was created in 1996 at the G-7 
summit in Lyons, France, at the initiative of United States president Clinton, 
as the only international effort to deal exclusively with the issue.  I’ve had 
the privilege of serving as a member of ICMP for over a decade, and I take 
great pride in its work as a independent human rights organization.

ICMP has a unique mandate.  We work with governments to ensure that they take 
responsibility for ending the cruel uncertainty inflicted on the families of 
the missing; that they build rule-of-law institutions that allow for the 
missing to be located, recovered and identified; and that they are held to 
account for atrocities committed; in short, that they end the silence.

Equally important, we work with the families of the missing.  We educate and 
empower them.  We help with reconciliation efforts between families from 
different groups or different sides of the conflict.  We help rebuild trust 
between civil society and states emerging from conflict by creating a space for 
dialogue between government authorities and the families of the missing, so 
that they can demand answers.  And we help craft legislation so that the right 
to information is enshrined in law.

We also assist judicial institutions, both domestic and international, so that 
families of the missing can seek justice and perpetrators are held to account.  
In cases of natural or manmade disasters, as with the cases of missing persons 
from conflict and human rights abuses, ICMP uses the technology it is perhaps 
best known for:  an integrated, scientific approach based upon DNA 
identification technology.  ICMP has so far assisted governments in making, as 
you just heard, over 18,000 DNA-based identifications.

While ICMP now assists governments around the world, it was initially created 
to address the issue of persons missing from the conflicts in the former 
Yugoslavia – Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Croatia, Kosovo, Montenegro and 
Macedonia – where an estimated 40,000 persons disappeared.  With the ICMP’s 
help, of those 40,000, 70 percent have been accounted for.  That is an 
unprecedented achievement compared to any other region in the world that has 
had to deal with this issue.

I know Srebrenica well.  The name of that small town has become a symbol, a 
byword for inhumanity – the only recognized genocide on European soil since 
World War II – where 8,100 men and boys were executed in a matter of days, and 
their bodies hidden in a series of mass graves strewn across the Bosnian 

I first visited in 1996, a year after the massacre, to bring humanitarian 
supplies from Jordan and to meet with thousands of grief-stricken survivors to 
express solidarity and support.  Years later, I returned as an ICMP 
commissioner to meet and often weep with Bosniak, Serb and Croat women and men, 
as they struggled to come to terms with the disappearances of their husbands, 
sons and fathers – killed in some cases by the husbands or sons of those 
sitting across the table from them.

I remember their stories of being shunned from government offices and living 
neglected in collective centers, many with their fatherless children.  ICMP 
reached out to them – to all of the families of the missing – regardless of 
ethnic, religious or national origin.  And they became our partners in a 
first-ever effort to systematically, scientifically locate and identify their 
loved ones.

Remarkably, many of them united across religious lines and worked together to 
fight for answers and to create lists of the relatives of the missing.  And, 
armed with this information, we began a large-scale effort across the former 
Yugoslavia to collect blood samples for DNA testing.  Providing a blood sample 
soon became a powerful symbol for many of these families, to declare their loss 
and to give of themselves to identify their loved ones.

Mr. Chairman, I have been in the mass graves.  I am still haunted by the 
memory.  qI still cannot comprehend the barbarism that mankind is capable of 
inflicting on his fellow man and the calculated, systematic attempts to strip 
these people of their humanity, to hide their bodies repeatedly so that they 
would never be identified, in order to deny that these atrocities took place.

And I’ve been in our ICMP DNA labs where identifications take place.  We first 
started using DNA because all other methods to identify the missing have proved 
to be inadequate.  I remember well that when I first became a commissioner, it 
seemed inconceivable that such a large number of persons could be identified 
and – could be located and identified.  ICMP made a bold decision to do 
something that had never been done before:  to use a technology, one that was 
still controversial in those days, even in court cases, and one that had 
certainly never been used following violent conflict where large numbers of 
persons were missing.

Skeptics said it was impossible, that at best we would be able to identify a 
thousand people, or that it would take a hundred years, or that the costs would 
be prohibitive.  I remember our early efforts to teach families of the missing 
about DNA.  But this powerful scientific tool proved invaluable in efficiently 
providing irrefutable evidence of the identity of tens of thousands.  

Through painstaking work and exquisitely sensitive techniques of DNA analysis, 
ICMP is able to make genetic matches between DNA profiles taken from skeletal 
remains recovered from mass graves and DNA profiles provided voluntarily by 
living family members, thus merging state-of-the-art science with human 
outreach in the service of justice and human rights.  In a politically charged 
post-conflict region like the former Yugoslavia, where denial regarding mass 
killings is prevalent, having this type of precision helped combat the myth 
that events such as Srebrenica never happened.

Today, of the approximately 8,100 persons killed and missing from the fall of 
Srebrenica, ICMP has helped identify 6,700.  Simultaneously, we worked with 
regional authorities to build the political, legal and technical infrastructure 
that would allow governments to search for the missing regardless of their 
ethnic, religious or national origin.

Critically, we helped them build rule-of-law institutions, such as the Missing 
Persons Institute in Bosnia, that work with the prosecutor’s office to ensure 
that each illicit grave site or mass grave is investigated as the scene of a 
crime – in these cases, war crimes and crimes against humanity.  Recently we 
held a series of town hall meetings in the countries of the Western Balkans 
with the families of the missing.

Now that a majority of missing persons have been accounted for, the narrative 
has shifted from a desire to know the fate of the missing to want justice.  The 
holistic approach of ICMP – working with governments, civil society, justice 
institutions, and providing scientifically based process of locating, 
recovering and identifying the missing – has set the parameters that will help 
the families pursue their legal rights and their desire for justice.

Mr. Chairman, ICMP has broken the silence.  And we hope that this new, modern 
approach, which has demonstrated that the missing can be found, will 
reverberate across other conflict regions.  In order to expand on the success 
of the countries of the former Yugoslavia, as well as the heroic efforts of 
thousands of affected families in accounting for such a large number of missing 
persons, we have developed a set of principles which are listed in the 
documents that we have provided the commission.

While these principles provide important guidance for governments around the 
world faced with the issue of the missing, I am particularly concerned with 
countries in the OSCE states outside of the Western Balkans.  The issue of 
missing persons affects almost one quarter of the OSCE states.  Unfortunately, 
limited progress has been made over the past decade.  For example, there are 
still 3(,000) to 5,000 missing in Chechnya.  Only 310 of the 1,500 to 2,000 
people reported missing in Cyprus have been accounted for, and the almost 5,000 
people are still reported missing from Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

I would like to reiterate, by comparison, that the countries in the Western 
Balkans, in just over a decade, have been able to account for 70 percent of 
those missing, of which the vast majority were identified by DNA.  These 
achievements are still not widely known.  But ICMP stands ready to help these 
countries in the rest of the OSCE region break the silence on missing persons 
just as dramatically.

I’d like to thank the U.S. Helsinki Commission for its tireless work in taking 
on tough human rights issues in Europe.  I very much look forward to ICMP 
providing support to OSCE countries.  With your support, the issue of missing 
persons as a result of armed conflict in Europe can be resolved.  The silence 
on this issue cannot continue, and I hope this hearing will resonate throughout 
the OSCE region and beyond.

Our breakthrough in using an integrated, scientific approach to identify the 
missing also applies following natural or man-made disasters.  ICMP has 
assisted Germany, Norway and Austria in dealing with missing-persons cases.  In 
partnership with Interpol, ICMP has helped Thailand and the Maldives following 
the 2004 tsunami, and the Philippines following Typhoon Frank in 2008.  ICMP 
and Interpol are now in the process of expanding their partnership to create a 
permanent disaster-victim identification platform.

Mr. Chairman, the issue of missing persons presents a global challenge that 
demands a global solution.  ICMP, with its specialized technology and 
expertise, is the only organization in the world capable of doing so 
effectively and efficiently.  ICMP’s work has expanded since our early days in 
the former Yugoslavia, and we are currently assisting Iraq, where up to 1 
million persons are reported missing.  And we have helped Colombia, Chile, 
South Africa, El Salvador deal with missing persons from human rights abuses 
and conflict.

ICMP’s work has also benefited the United States.  I’m proud to say that ICMP 
helped the state of Louisiana identify missing persons following Hurricane 
Katrina.  And I vividly remember meeting with the mayor of New York City soon 
after the 9/11 disaster to offer our assistance.  His articulation, if you 
will, of the – of what he had been told by the surviving family members of 
victims of the World Trade Center disaster, in fact, were verbatim what I had 
been hearing from families in Serbia, Croatia, Kosovo and Bosnia.

Sadly, in many other places where a request for our assistance has come from 
governments or NGOs – such as Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, Nepal, 
Kashmir, Sri Lanka, Uganda, Lebanon, Algeria, Morocco, and most recent Libya – 
we’ve had great difficulty in gaining support and funds to provide desperately 
needed assistance – despite our successes, particularly in the Western Balkans, 
where we will soon end our active engagement.  In addition, we are receiving 
increasing demands to help with missing-persons cases related to human 
trafficking, drug-related violence and a whole host of other causes.

The need for knowledge, for closure in these situations is universal.  And 
providing it is critical to overcoming anger and despair and restoring 
stability to families, communities and nations.  The fundamental human rights 
work of ICMP is not only palliative, it is preventative.  The healing and 
recovery it provides to victims, as well as the process of accountability it 
helps foster with governments, are absolutely integral to the process of 
healing, reconciliation, justice and ultimately conflict prevention.

In closing, I would also like to thank my fellow ICMP commissioners from around 
the world who volunteer their time to assist ICMP.  And in particular I would 
like to acknowledge and thank the current and previous chairpersons of ICMP, 
including Cyrus Vance, Bob Dole, James Kimsey and the current chair, Ambassador 
Thomas Miller.

I would also like to thank the governments that support ICMP’s work, 
particularly the United States.  The support of the United States State 
Department was critical in creating ICMP and making it a success story.  I hope 
that this important support will continue.  Thank you.

REP. SMITH:  Thank you very much for a very, very eloquent statement, 
comprehensive, and for the great work that you and your organization does in 
this behalf.  We are joined by Commissioner Pitts, as well as by Chairman Pitts 
and Chairman Frank Wolf.  Frank, would you – OK – caught him as he was sitting 

I’d like to now ask to Mr. Bray, if you have – (inaudible) – provide your 

SHAWN A. BRAY:  Good afternoon, Chairman Smith, distinguished members of the 
commission, ladies and gentlemen.  It is an honor to appear before you today on 
behalf of Interpol to discuss how the International Criminal Police 
Organization is helping law enforcement overcome obstacles to locating and 
identifying missing persons around the world as well as here at home.

Interpol Washington is a component of the U.S. Department of Justice and is 
co-managed by the Department of Homeland Security.  We are the statutorily 
designated representative to Interpol on behalf of the attorney general.  As 
such, we become the official point of contact for all Interpol-related matters 
in the United States.

Although primarily noted for its work in locating and apprehending 
transnational criminals and fugitives, Interpol plays a significant and 
important role in responding to requests for humanitarian assistance that may 
involve such matters as missing persons, victim identification, death 
notifications, threatened suicides, and health and welfare checks for persons 
around the world.

Using a sophisticated communications network, Interpol provides the world’s law 
enforcement authorities with access to a variety of tools and resources that 
are being used to great effect in these humanitarian efforts – as part of 
either an individual inquiry or investigation, or in response to a larger-scale 
disaster.  One of Interpol’s most important functions is to enable the world’s 
police to exchange investigative information quickly and securely.

Accordingly, Interpol has developed the I-24/7, a noted system that is 
encrypted, Internet-based, establishes communications, and a network that 
facilitates police-to-police interaction in real time, enabling users in 190 
member countries to share crucial police data and access Interpol databases and 
services each day.  Services that are currently available through the I-24/7 
include secure messaging, direct access to Interpol’s databases of nominal 
information such as fingerprints, photographs, DNA profiles, and biographical 
details on subjects of Interpol notices.

These notices, which are color-coded to indicate their specific purpose, are 
distributed to law enforcement authorities in the Interpol member countries for 
purposes that include, but are certainly not limited to:  locating and seeking 
the arrest of fugitives, such as the famous red notice; locating missing 
persons or helping identify persons who are not able to identify themselves, as 
a yellow notice; and seeking information about unidentified persons who are 
deceased, which is a black notice.

These very systems which have allowed Interpol member countries to locate and 
apprehend serious and violent criminal offenders around the world also enable 
the organization to provide real-time assistance in locating and identifying 
missing persons, as well as others who are of official interest or concern to 
law enforcement.  For example, Interpol is currently implementing the Fast ID 
system.  This is a system that began with a conceptualization and a realization 
that no centralized, truly global police database exists for use in identifying 
missing persons and/or unidentified bodies.

Accordingly, Interpol began development of such a database with the objective 
of providing decentralized access to its member countries through the I-24/7 
and for use in conjunction with the larger-scale disasters and regular policing 
activities that they face every day.  The data used in the Fast ID system will 
be obtained from Interpol’s disaster victim identification program, its forms 
and deployments, together with information provided in the corresponding yellow 
and black notices and its data sets.

Once entered, the data is processed through three separate components designed 
to increase opportunity for positive identification.  The system merges 
components collected from the Interpol notices – secondary identifiers but 
certainly important identifiers such as clothing, body markings, piercings, 
jewelry – and ultimately will include facial recognition.  However, the main 
component collects primary identifiers from the existing databases which you’ve 
heard about today, such as fingerprints, DNA and dental records.

Interpol launched a prototype of the Fast ID system in 2011.  Interactive 
testing of that system is currently being conducted with the objective of 
moving to full-phase testing later in 2012, followed by full implementation 
across its member countries.  Fast ID is the newest component of Interpol’s 
well-developed services that constitute its DVI program.

Interpol’s DVI program utilizes internationally recognized processes and 
standards for identifying victims of major disasters, such as terrorist attacks 
or earthquakes, where visual recognation (ph) – pardon me, recognition – is not 
possible or may be severely limited.  Under such circumstances, comparison by 
fingerprints, dental records or stored DNA samples are typically required for 
conclusive identification.

Interpol’s DVI services include command and coordination assistance, fully 
deployable incident response teams that can provide on-site investigative 
support or direct connectivity to Interpol’s investigative databases and 
command center.  Interpol’s DVI activities are led by the organization’s 
standing committee on disaster victim identification.  This committee is 
comprised of forensic and police experts from around the world that meet 
regularly to discuss improvements to standards and procedures in these matters.

Interpol’s standards and guidelines for disaster victim identification are 
backed by specific training programs that include victim care and family 
support, compliance with international standards and forensic quality assurance 
controls, information sharing and exchange, and operational assistance to 
countries lacking disaster victim identification capacity.  Many of these 
standards were developed in partnership with organizations and member 
countries.  Such organizations as the International Commission on Missing 
Persons have been crucial in these efforts.

I am also pleased to report that in 2014 Interpol will open its Interpol Global 
Complex for Innovation, or IGCI.  This state-of-the-art facility in Singapore 
will focus on innovative research and capacity-building for law enforcement 
agencies worldwide.  One of its primary functions will be to enhance Interpol’s 
DVI forensic capabilities and serve as a global resource and ultimately a 
platform for ensuring adequate levels of disaster preparedness.

Interpol actively supports its member countries’ law enforcement efforts to 
investigate serious transnational crimes, including genocide, war crimes and 
crimes against humanity.  Interpol’s fugitive investigative support 
subdirectorate focuses specifically on three key areas of assistance to provide 
support to its member countries.  It focuses on operations, networking and 

While operational support is achieved through the publication of the red 
notices – an international alert for locating and apprehending fugitives and 
wanted persons – training support is also provided to enhance capacity and 
proficiency in law enforcement agencies around the world, specifically with 
processing forensic evidence related to mass atrocities, skills that are 
necessary in locating, recovering  and identifying victim remains, and 
successfully prosecuting perpetrators of these horrific crimes.

In the United States, Interpol Washington uses the I-24/7 and the Interpol 
notice system to support domestic and foreign law enforcement efforts to locate 
missing children, abducted children, missing adults and unidentified deceased 
persons.  For example, within the framework of our missing and abducted 
children’s program, Interpol Washington’s human trafficking and child 
protection division publishes yellow notices and diffusions to seek the 
location and safe return of missing U.S. children to their parents.

Similarly, incoming requests from our foreign law enforcement counterparts are 
entered into U.S. indices, including the National Center for Missing and 
Exploited Children.  This information is promptly shared with law enforcement 
agencies nationwide in regard to children who are missing, removed from or 
brought to the U.S. by a noncustodial parent.  In furthering these efforts, 
Interpol Washington also coordinates with the U.S. Department of State Office 
of Children’s Issues, which manages the complementary Hague Convention cases 
that we undergo.

Through our international missing persons program, Interpol Washington’s 
alien/fugitive division utilizes yellow notices to locate and identify persons 
over the age of 18 who have been reported missing by domestic and foreign law 
enforcement agencies.  Similarly, the International Unidentified Dead Body 
Program uses Interpol black notices and directs inquiries from member countries 
to assist in identifying remains of unidentified deceased persons recovered by 
law enforcement authorities worldwide.

Mr. Chairman, distinguished members of the commission, the theme of today’s 
testimony is:  How can we overcome obstacles to locating and identifying 
persons who have become missing from a variety of causes, both man-made and 
natural in nature?  As we are all aware, efforts to locate and identify missing 
persons oftentimes have an international dimension that truly requires an 
international response.

In order to respond effectively, U.S. law enforcement authorities and our 
foreign counterparts must be able to overcome the very real linguistic, 
cultural and legal barriers that complicate the exchange of investigative 
information and often prevent support across international boundaries.  As the 
world’s largest organization for policing, Interpol provides the necessary 
communications network, framework for police cooperation, and investigative 
tools and services essential to our success.

As the national central bureau of Interpol for the United States, Interpol 
Washington is an active partner in international law enforcement efforts to 
ensure the timely location and identification of such persons.  I would like to 
conclude by thanking the U.S. Helsinki Commission, and your professional staff 
in particular, for your continuing and tireless efforts to promote human 
rights.  The hearing is certainly a continuing testimony to your commitment and 
dedication to such a worthy cause.  Thank you.

REP. SMITH:  Thank you very much, Mr. Bray, for your testimony and for your 
outstanding work, which this commission and really the Foreign Affairs 
Committee has – since I work on human rights – we followed very carefully.  
Thank you so much.

I’d like to ask Ms. Tlisova, if she would proceed.  

FATIMA TLISOVA:  Thank you, Chairman Smith and the members of the Helsinki 
Commission, for the honor to speak here today.  I appear before you in my 
professional capacity as a reporter for VOA’s Russian service and not as a 
private citizen.  And I will – I will testify honestly and from the best of my 

At the VOA Russian service, we run a special section called Caucasus Today.  In 
this series of reports, we are aiming to present interviews and opinions of 
experts who are focused on the situation in this region, as well as giving 
voice to the people from the North Caucasus, among whom are journalists, 
lawyers and human rights activists, members of the government forces, and 
victims of the human rights abuses.  

As a journalist responsible for the Caucasus section at the VOA Russian, I 
personally am in direct contact with representatives of society in the north 
Caucasus on a daily basis.  To give you an impression of the extent of those 
connections, I can tell you that the night before yesterday a Skype call woke 
me – woke me up at two in the morning.  It was a human rights activist from 
tiny Republic of Ingushetia, begging me to spread information on the latest 
disappearance – 23 years old, Rustam Aushev was kidnapped.  

His relatives were able to collect a visual recording from security cameras 
that show how Rustam was taken by men in civilian clothes.  Relatives also have 
eyewitness testimony from the local highway patrol officers who said that upon 
the request to remove a vehicle from a restricted area, the person in the van 
presented them the ID of an FSB officer.  This was the same car that, as 
recorded on the video, drove away from – with Rustam Aushev.  

The human rights activist who called me that night said Rustam might still be 
alive.  With day by – with days passing, the chances that his family will ever 
see him again are vanishing.  Usually after two weeks, people start collecting 
money to bribe officials to buy back the body of their loved ones.  This is a 
story not of just one particular person.  This is a story of hundreds of 
families and thousands of young men and women.  

I’m not – I’m not referring to the statistics in my testimony.  The numbers are 
available in the – in the regular reports of the major human rights 
organizations.  As impossible as they sound, according to the information from 
the local NGOs, they do not represent the real data, which is much larger.  My 
testimony is based on an observation of the – (inaudible) – latest reports 
performed by the VOA Russian service.  I will address main issues by quoting 
certain stories.  

First – (inaudible) – the special amendment to Russia’s criminal court 
introduced by Vladimir Putin puts the FSB, the former KGB, in a special 
position, which gives them unlimited authority in initiating and performing 
counterterrorism operations, so-called KTO.  In his video interview to VOA, the 
United Nations special rapporteur on human rights and counterterrorism, Martin 
Scheinin, underlined that the main problem with Russia’s definition of 
terrorism is that it often used against – that is, it is often used against 
political opponents, giving the authorities the ability to expand the usage of 
anti-terrorism law against persons and groups who do not employ terrorist 
methods.  Based on the current law, the Russian security services are able to 
create blacklists, which do not imply any legal mechanism for the people who 
are on those lists to defend their lives and their reputation.

The role of security services: in a Skype interview to VOA – (name inaudible) – 
the former officer of the – (inaudible) – Caucasus confirmed that the Federal 
Security Services are directly involved in forced disappearances.  Kidnapped 
persons are being subjects of brutal torture and posthumously labeled as 
members of terrorist, extremist groups.  The bodies are disposed.  And 
thousands of families have never granted a luxury to properly bury their loved 

The role of judiciary system:  (inaudible) – kidnapped is now – (inaudible).  
For two weeks, his family did not know anything of his whereabouts.  When his 
name appeared, then his name appeared among detainees accused in an attempt to 
overthrow Russian government.  In his letter from prison to European Court of 
Human Rights – (inaudible) – wrote:  For a very long time, I was beaten 
brutally in a perverted manner.  After I signed empty sheets of paper, they 
brought me to the judge, naked and covered in blood.  I do not remember the 
face of the judge who gave them a warrant for my arrest without even asking a 
single question about my condition.  

In her interview to VOA, independent lawyer from – (in Russian) – (name 
inaudible) – said that kidnapping is followed by detention, in which the victim 
is tortured to the point where he signs blank papers.  After that, he can be 
accused in any crime.  Her colleagues from Dagestan in Chechnya – (inaudible) – 
when interviewed by VOA said that detained persons are denied the right to an 
independent lawyer.  They have to accept the lawyers appointed by the state.  
The three of them independently made a statement that the judiciary system in 
the North Caucasus is fully under control of the security services.  Decisions 
are political motivated, predetermined and – predetermined by the orders from 
the FSB and do not represent justice.  

A former member of the Russian Presidential Commission on Human Rights and the 
well-known journalist, Maxim Shevchenko, when interviewed by VOA, underlined 
that the Kremlin’s brutal policy towards the North Caucasus is the very source 
of radicalization in every nation of the Caucasus.  He said that people are 
forced to live with the knowledge that for this state, their lives value zero.  

Violence committed by the government forces produces hatred and vengeance.  
Without a fundamental change of policy, this region is doomed to become a 
threat not only to Russia but to Europe in whole.  There are many other aspects 
of this problem – to this problem.  To the best of my ability, I gave you a 
very few major issues that support the system, where forced disappearances are 
not only possible but represent a very basic and a common tool for mass 
violations of human rights in the North Caucasus.  

Thank you for your attention.  

REP. SMITH:   Thank you so very much for your testimony.  Mr. Masovic?  

AMOR MASOVIC:  (Through interpreter.)  Honorable members of Congress, ladies 
and gentlemen, for the past 20 years I’m participating in the process of 
identifying and registering missing persons in the territory of Bosnia and 
Herzegovina whose disappearances is a result of an armed conflict which 
occurred in the beginning of the 90 century – ’90 in the past century.  

In the period between 1992 through present, I was leading many teams and 
institutions who managed to locate over 500 mass graves and more than 5,000 
individual gravesites filled with human remains and more than 60,000 victims of 
forced disappearances.  As a result of war, genocide, crimes against humanity 
and international law, it has documented disappearance of approximately 30,000 
people in Bosnia and Herzegovina and approximately 10,000 in Croatia, Serbia, 
and Kosovo.  

Generally, I’m speaking of civilian population – men, women and children – who 
disappeared in eastern and western part of Bosnia and Herzegovina.  The 
geographical territory in the east is along the flow of river Drina, which 
banks’ borderlines the country of Serbia, and in the west, along the flow of 
river Sana.  

More than quarters (ph) of all missing persons were men and boys that 
disappeared during the military and police force aggression conducted by 
Karadzic and Mladic.  These forces operated on territory in and around of town 
Srebrenica, which was protected by the flag of U.N. peacekeeping forces.  The 
facts are that only in the period – a few days in the month of July 1995, at 
least 8,300 Bosnians were assassinated in the shooting range or mercilessly 
killed.  All these atrocities happened while the people of Bosnia and 
Herzegovina were under the protection of the U.S. peacekeeping forces.  

All above mentioned facts are the obstacles in the process of finding and 
identifying the victims of enforced disappearances.  Particularly, the fact is 
that the largest number of the enforced disappearances were result of genocide 
and the forms of war atrocities committed against civilians, and only a small 
number of disappeared were members of the military and police forces, which 
were missing in action.  

On the other hand, it is the fact that Bosnia and Herzegovina in a decade and a 
half still is not prepared to face the past and confront the organizers and 
perpetrators of the mass crimes.  Not a small number of government 
representatives from the low-level positions to high-level positions are not 
willing to act with the accordance of the international obligations, neither 
with the accordance of the laws of Bosnia and Herzegovina, such as the law of 
the missing persons of Bosnia-Herzogovina.  

Mr. Chairman, we face chronic absence of information about the perpetrators of 
the crimes, about the victims and of forced disappearance, about the locations 
and the identity of victims, about dislocated primary into the secondary 
gravesites.  All above mentioned facts are the main obstacles that 
Bosnia-Herzegovina is still facing and the obstacles that are still in the way 
for solving the problems of missing persons.  

Accountable individuals and accountable government officials – not only that 
they refuse to supply the information which would help in locating the 
gravesite, yet they refuse to support the state court and Prosecutor’s Office 
of Bosnia-Herzegovina and directly obstruct the process of determining the 
truth and achieve the justice.  

The state court and Prosecutor’s Office of Bosnia-Herzegovina, in the 
collaboration with International Criminal Court, for the former Yugoslavia, 
accused and convicted certain number of responsible persons for the forced 
disappearances.  But the absence of political and all other forms of help and 
support are preventing them to be even more effective.  International 
prosecutors and judges who are involved in the local judicial institutions 
suffer constant attacks and pressure from the certain politicians, which do not 
only not perform their duties but recently tried to minimize and altogether  
negate the occurrence of the crime – war crimes, including genocide and forced 

This behavior of certain individuals and government groups leave consequences 
on the family members of missing persons, especially the family members that 
are still searching for their loved ones.  And because of this behavior, 
they’re becoming more and more aware that their loved ones might not ever be 
found.  The shortcomings is in a clearly stated political will to confront our 
past and truth, no matter how horrifying it is.  It is an obstacle in a faster 
and more effective solution of the missing persons problem, not only in Bosnia 
and Herzegovina but in whole region.  

Absolutely the same conclusion was realized by the Working Group of Enforced 
and Involuntary Disappearances organized by the United Nation(s).  Therefore, 
is extremely important – it’s of extremely (ph) importance that the government 
of Bosnia-Herzegovina implements without any delay the recommendations by the 
working group and creates conditions for speeding up the process of exhuming 
and identifying the victims.  

To that effect, the following points are essential: to support and empower the 
independence of the Institute for the Missing Persons of Bosnia-Herzegovina, 
provide more resources and require technology for finding mass graves.  The 
government of Bosnia-Herzegovina needs to:  provide more political and 
financial support to the institutions for the missing persons; increase the 
number of prosecutors who are engaged in – (inaudible) – and criminal 
prosecution of war criminals; provide fruitful negotiations between the 
government and the families of the missing persons, in order to ensure their 
rights to find the truth and repair the lost trust; provide larger number of 
forensic pathologists to ensure a faster process of identification; establish a 
functional forensic center on the state level; bring to justice key commanders 
and all other criminals, in order to strengthen the process of revealing the 
truth; strengthen the program of protection for witnesses in order to come 
forward with information for the location of the mass gravesites; provide 
support to the families of the victims, who are still exposed to attacks, 
threats and harassments; legislating a criminal law that enforced disappearance 
is an individual, criminal act, so in cases where it’s not possible to convict 
for the crimes against humanity, prosecution will still be able to convict and 
sentence; to make impossible to grant amnesty for the accused of enforced 
disappearance; regard enforced disappearance as a continuous crime, which is 
going to enable implementation of all other laws which are passed after the 
occurrence of forced disappearances.  

This will not undermine the principle of the retroactive implementation of the 
newly passed laws.  Working Group on Forced and Involuntary Disappearances by 
the U.N. specifically points out in their recommendation to the government of 
Bosnia-Herzegovina, the key role of the international commission for the 
missing persons, and recommends that the commission remains active and stays 
active in the future involvements in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Mr. Chairman, lastly I would like to emphasize that in spite of the obstacles 
previously mentioned, Bosnia-Herzegovina remains the leader in the world for 
solving the missing persons cases.  I am sure that this opportunity to testify 
that was given to me by the Helsinki committee and – under leadership of 
honorable Congressman Smith, who was honored with the biggest award given by 
the families of the victims called – (in Russian) – and the testimony of all 
others involved future motivate United States of America and European community 
continue this successful project, or a story about discovering the final 
destinies of the missing in Bosnia.

I believe that my country will never be able to thank properly the people of 
United States of America, United States government, state secretaries, members 
of the Congress, senators, members of the U.S. armed forces, negotiators, 
diplomats and many others for every assistance and effort to stop the war and 
successful prosecution of the war criminals.  

Members of my team and hundreds of citizens of Bosnia-Herzegovina requested 
that today, in front of this committee, I convey their most heartfelt thanks 
and deep gratitude to the former chairmans of the ICMP, secretary of state, Mr. 
Vance, Senator Dole, Mr. J. Kimsey, present chairman, Ambassador Miller.  

Special gratitude to Her Majesty Queen Noor, who was able to recognize the pain 
and suffering that was in the hearts of Bosnian mothers, sisters and daughters, 
and lend a hand in soothing the grief from human tragedies.  Special gratitude 
to Katherine Bloomberg (sp); without her, we would not have a law for missing 
persons or the Institute for Missing Persons.  Special thanks to Katherine 
Bloomberg (sp) and her assistant – tens of thousands of Bosnian women and men 
have found their peace.  

REP. SMITH:  Mr. Masovic, thank you very much for your testimony and for the 
acknowledgements of all the key players, but you left out yourself, because you 
have been a key player for so long and have done an extraordinary job.

Let me just ask a few opening questions.  And, first of all, to Queen Noor, if 
you could, do you find that when families are apprised of the findings, 
gruesome as they may be, from a mass grave, that they accept it?  Or is there a 
time lag where – or that they doubt it?  How does that work?

Push the button, please.  Thank you.

HER MAJESTY QUEEN NOOR:  It – to some extent it depends on the circumstances, 
how long it has been.  But it is absolutely critical that they do finally have 
that information.  And as I was saying, I found that families in New York City 
were using exactly the same words to describe their need for closure as 
families in Bosnia and elsewhere in the region have used, to describe their 
need for that information in order to achieve a personal, emotional, if you 
will, and psychological closure, but also in order to begin to move forward and 
to look forward to a future in which then can be active participants that 
ultimately can have an impact on the role that they can play in promoting 
reconciliation and stability in their communities and in their countries.  

And we found that, in fact, in bringing together those who had suffered these 
losses from a different – the different religious, ethnic and national groups, 
that in fact – that they were able to find some measure of common – something 
in their common suffering that enabled them together to look at a different way 
of living in the future that we also consider to be of great value.

REP. SMITH:   You know, you mentioned the 9/11 – almost 60 individuals from my 
district died in the World Trade Center.  And I got to know many, not all, but 
many of the survivors.  And I got to know them quite well.  And your point is 
very well taken.  Kristen Breitweiser, who is one of the widows from 9/11, and 
she was affectionately known as one of the Jersey girls, because they were the 
ones who led the effort to get the 9/11 Commission.  And they were absolutely 
tenacious – three – she and three others.  

But she told me and a group down here, the first time I met her, that she – you 
know, had – even though she knew the last point where her husband was in the 
World Trade Center – last location – she still wondered, was he there?  You 
know, was he – because she wasn’t on the phone with him.  And it was when she 
got her ring back – his ring, obviously the wedding ring – with a finger – as 
gruesome as that is, and it is gruesome – that she began to have closure that 
he did indeed die.  

And yet, we all watched – I mean, there was no question where it all happened.  
Now, in a battlefield, obviously, and natural disasters there’s certainly 
greater room for skepticism about – so – which is why the DNA is so important.  
Let me ask you – or just – back in 1998, March 31st, sitting right where Mr. 
Bray is sitting, I chaired a hearing of my subcommittee.  It was called the 
Subcommittee of International Operations and Human Rights.  

And we heard from Hasan Nuhanovic, who was the translator when Mladic met with 
the Dutch peacekeepers.  And this was three years after the 1995 genocide 
occurred.  Matter of fact, we had a hearing that I also chaired right here on 
mass graves and other atrocities in Bosnia in December of ’95.  But the full 
weight of what had happened there was still streaming out.  In 1998, here’s the 
man who had his whole family – or much of his family disappear right in front 
of his midst, said:  The Dutch not only turned the people over to the Serbs, 
but also tried to hide the evidence about it.  They hid the list of 239 people 
from the Potocari camp.  They did nothing to find out what had happened to 
those men and boys – we know it was 8,000 strong – including some women, 
including my mother, until I visited the Dutch Defense Ministry in The Hague in 
January or 1997.  And he went on to say:  There was no news about the fate of 
the people, still.  This was three years after that genocide.  

The need for reorganization and the work of all of you is so extraordinarily 
important, one, for the families; secondly for governments, including friendly 
governments, you know, the so-called safe haven at Srebrenica where the Dutch 
peacekeepers literally handed over to Mladic people for slaughter – that, you 
know, what ensued thereafter was anything but a transparent and open 
investigation.  There was efforts to hide what had happened.  So the importance 
of holding to account governments, holding to account friendly governments – 
not just those who perpetrate the crimes – I think cannot be understated.  

So I thank you for the work that you’re doing.  I would ask you, you know, if – 
and if any of you would like to answer it – you know, dictatorships are always 
harder to deal with, and whether or not you have found, in your work, where 
access to the battlefield or even access to a natural disaster is hindered or 
hampered by the fact that it might be a dictatorship like China.  Even Vietnam 
– you know, their – we have Americans – World War II, 73,000 MIAs; Korean War, 
almost 8,000; Vietnam 1,689 still MIA. 

The latter two – World War II we had access to the battlefield globally – or 
almost total access.  Many died on ships so those men and women will never be 
known where they died.  But in Korea, no access to North Korea at all – very 
little, you know, over the years.  And Vietnam, obviously, it has been done 
very, very slowly over the course of many years.  So my question is about the 
access in dictatorships or authoritarian regimes.  Has it been your experience 
to find that’s harder?  You mentioned 9 million in Iraq.  I’m not sure if that 
was during Hussein or more recent.  

HER MAJESTY QUEEN NOOR:  Well, Iraq breaks that – well, one footnote to your – 
what you were saying initially, at the beginning, about the translator.  We 
have actually, in fact, identified now all of Hasan’s family.  It’s just a 
small footnote, but it is –

REP. SMITH:  It’s important.

HER MAJESTY QUEEN NOOR:  -- it is a little example of what ICMP – the impact 
that we’ve had on so many families – I wish all of them, but a large percentage 
of them.  

Yes, it does depend on – every country’s circumstances are slightly different.  
And we’ve had a range of experiences that are very much affected by the legal 
and political systems in different countries.  And in Iraq, we have been 
training people from Iraqi ministries in scientific methods to evacuate mortal 

But just as in Bosnia-Herzegovina and the Balkans, in countries like Iraq and 
others, like Libya, which have asked for our help as well, and Lebanon, there 
are different parties that have different vested interests in either exposing 
the full truth and all the information about these cases or in trying to 
conceal them, and as I said in my remarks, or cover up for previous regimes.

So there are a variety of different circumstances.  I don’t know if you have 
perhaps some observations on that.  And we, as an independent, impartial 
organization, feel that we are well-suited.  And we have been able to provide 
information and court cases, because we are respected and understood to be an 
impartial organization, able to operate in ways that other entities, like ICRC 
and other entities, are not as able to do today.

MR. BRAY:  I would agree that it depends country-to-country.  With Interpol you 
have 190 member countries that come together voluntarily.  Within the U.S. we 
refer to a thin blue line connecting law enforcement at all our levels – 
federal, state, local and tribal.  But I would submit that this line also 
exists between countries, particularly through Interpol.  

We often get much accomplished, despite geopolitical differences, because we’re 
communicating law enforcement to law enforcement to solve crime, to promote 
humanitarian efforts.  I think that’s where organizations such as these come 
into their own.  

Now, can I say that across the board that level of cooperation exists within 
every country?  I would not submit that to you.  But I would say that every 
effort that we can make, every tool in the box should be utilized in such 

REP. SMITH:  We do have a vote on the floor.  There’s three, but they’ll – 
it’ll only take about 10 minutes and then we’ll come back.  But I would like to 
yield to Mr. Pitts.  And I know if people have schedules they have to meet, we 
certainly understand.  But we would like to, if you could, just bear with us 
for 10 minutes after Mr. Pitts’ questioning.

REPRESENTATIVE JOSEPH PITTS (R-PA):  Thank you, Mr. Chairman.  Your Majesty, 
thank you for your work.  And thank you all for your compelling testimony.  I 
would like to ask you, I mean, your – how can the ICMP’s success be transferred 
to other OSCE states faced with the issue of missing persons?  And what has 
been the ICMP’s work within OSCE outside of Western Balkans?

HER MAJESTY QUEEN NOOR:  We – I think that we’ve demonstrated that, first of 
all, bringing international attention to an issue like this – and that’s 
exemplified by the creation of ICMP in the first place – is – has – is one very 
important factor.  And certainly this meeting is a great asset to all of our 
efforts in that regard.  Our pioneering DNA technology is another asset and 
factor that can be applicable to successfully addressing these problems in 
other OSCE countries.  

The fact that governments in the region of the Western Balkans demonstrated the 
political will to address this issue was absolutely critical to our success.  
And the fact that we also adopted an adherence to the rule of law approach, not 
just a humanitarian approach to the issue, also was critical because where 
persons are missing from conflict and human rights abuses, it’s a consequence 
of criminal activity.  And that’s very different from persons missing from, for 
example, natural disasters.  

And it’s that government cooperation working, in this case, with the 
International Criminal Court and domestic courts help to expedite the process 
of locating missing persons.  And then our use of DNA technology, enabling them 
to accurately identify the missing, that combination was critical to our 
success in the Western Balkans and also is certainly applicable to the larger 
OSCE countries. 

REP. PITTS:  Thank you, Mr. Chairman.  We’ve only got five minutes.  So I think 
I’ll have to submit my questions in writing.  Thank you.  

REP. SMITH:  Well, just to best use – I hope I don’t miss the vote – let me ask 
a couple of other questions.  The ICMP has stated that it needs certain 
immunities to cover its operations outside of the Western Balkans, where it has 
been granted quasi-international status.  How does the absence of these 
immunities impact or impede the ICMP’s work?  

HER MAJESTY QUEEN NOOR:  Well, there are – it is finding that the ad hoc – 
we’ve been finding that the ad hoc approach that we have had to date is not 
really sustainable.  We haven’t had a permanent formal legal status, but rather 
a series of bilateral agreements with various countries.  

And for example, just to be very specific, some countries have claimed to be 
reluctant to conclude agreements with us because we don’t have a permanent 
internationally-recognized legal status.  And this has stopped at least one 
project from going ahead in Colombia that would have supported U.S. interests 
in resolving dubious claims about the armed struggle against the FARC 
guerillas.  It also makes it difficult for us to assist in excavation of mass 
graves related, for example, to the regime crimes in Iraq and providing 
DNA-based identity testing assistance. 

It is, I think, absolutely critical that we are able to continue this 
independent, impartial approach.  And while we’ve demonstrated its efficacy in 
the Western Balkans, and to some extent in other services we’ve provided to 
other countries, it – we are finding that this – what we’ve been talking to the 
commission about and what we very much hope the United States will be able to 
advocate for us in terms of that international formal legal status, will enable 
us to be able to respond to and much more effectively address the – a range of 
different problems in different countries that are urgently asking for our 
help.  And those range from Iraq, but also, as I mentioned earlier, Libya and 
Latin America and elsewhere, of course.

REP. SMITH:  Let me ask Ms. Tlisova – about 5,000 Chechens still remain 
unaccounted for from the first and second Chechen wars.  Without Russian 
cooperation, what can be done?  I mean, there’s a lack of international law on 
this.  As a matter of fact, even if there were access, the concern would be, 
you know, has a building gone up over a mass grave, has it been concreted – you 
know, turned into a parking lot?  

Where – how do you preserve – I remember when you – even when – and our 
commission did – was very active on this during the whole Balkan Wars issue – 
the Balkan Wars, I should say – and that was – there was a loss of information 
even, firsthand accounts of atrocities, never mind the finding of the people 
who’ve been slaughtered, but peoples’ – you know, because there was 
insufficient money being put aside to do – initiate war crimes investigations.  
So what happens when you have a Russia who says no?  

MS. TLISOVA:  Well, actually – and that’s a very difficult question.  

REP. SMITH:  I’m going to leave the record until you’ve done your answer.  I 
will come right back as will the members as soon as the hearing – as soon as 
we’re done voting.  But please continue with your statement.  

MS. TLISOVA:  There is a human rights organization called Memorial in Russia.  
They do a great job by helping people to discover the bodies of their loved 
ones.  And Memorial is not very much loved or favored by the Russian 
government.  And there is no actually job done from the Russian government side 
or ever – and very little job done by the Chechen government to discover mass 
graves and to punish this crime.  

Also, there’s another issue.  In – during the war, a lot of Chechens were 
detained, and they remain in prison.  And they’re still reported as missing 
persons.  That’s another part of the problem.  I really don’t know what can be 
done if – when Russian side says no.  It’s a difficult question.  The only – my 
suggestion is probably to work to the – with – directly with the human rights 
organizations in Chechnya and in Russia to support them and to help them to 
organize this search for mass graves.  

Thank you.

STAFF:  Thank you, Ms. Tsilova.  The congressman has three votes, and then 
we’ll resume.  So we’re going into temporary recess.  Thanks.


REP. SMITH:  The commission will resume its hearing.  And I apologize profusely 
for that delay.  There were three votes on the House floor.  Let me just as you 
a question with regards to human trafficking.  In 2010, we saw victim 
identification drop in Europe.  There are 14,650 trafficking victims found in 
2009, but only 8,548 were found in 2010.   In Bosnia, specifically, authorities 
identified 37 trafficking victims in 2010, compared with 46 victims in 2009.  

The annual TIP report, or Trafficking in Persons report, required by my 
legislation, indicates that local experts report police are not using proactive 
identification techniques to locate victims increasingly kept in more private 
locations throughout the country.  All stakeholders report a lack of clarity in 
the current procedures used for identification and referral.  And local experts 
report multiple instances of potential victims not being recognized as such.  

My question, I guess, to all of you – Mr. Bray to you as well – would you agree 
with that assessment?  Are we seeing any other factors?  How can – have you 
noticed an overall shift, perhaps, in deprioritizing the recovery of missing 

MR. BRAY:  From a U.S. perspective, I wouldn’t say we have any shift.  I 
wouldn’t say it’s been deprioritized here at all.  As a matter of fact, the 
Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security both have very robust 
programs, specific through the FBI and ICE, on victim identification.  I think 
there are persistent issues that still exist with victims, particularly those 
in the United States obtaining correct identification, making a positive 
assessment of status.  Those all play into that.

As far as Interpol and in the international community, I know that victim 
identification continues to be an issue there, and it becomes part of their 
training regimen and their capacity-building regimen, which we’ll see deployed 
here in the near future in Central American and in partnership with the United 
States government.  So we’ll look to identify the weaknesses through an 
assessment, and then act on those and build some capacity, and then follow that 
up with an operational phase and see if we can’t help shift that a little bit.

REP. SMITH:  OK, thank you.  

HER MAJESTY QUEEN NOOR:  And I would just add that –

REP. SMITH:  Could you push the – thank you.

HER MAJESTY QUEEN NOOR:  I would add simply that there is currently no 
mechanism outside of the International Commission on Missing Persons that can 
link governments and families of the missing on a global level.  So if a 
trafficked woman from Ukraine, for example, goes missing in another country, 
there is currently no way to search for her in a way that uses genetic 
information in cross-border or in a global context.  

So we have a proven track record of sharing this information and – helping to 
share this information in real time, online with governments and families of 
this missing.  So that is one – another role that ICMP is able to play today 
and that hopefully will also be part of a larger, more effective international 

REP. SMITH:  Could you describe the joint platform for disaster victim 
identification? Mr. Bray.

MR. BRAY:  Essentially, there’s a proposal – a concept, if you will, between 
ICMP and Interpol to establish a platform by which there’s a standing regimen 
for international response.  It would include creating multidisciplinary, 
multinational response that has been seen and proven effective.  I believe the 
last deployment was Typhoon Frank in 2008.  The bottom line is they’ll have to 
establish international standards so it can be monitored and updated as needed, 
though it will have to develop cost effective technology solutions.  

Right now we have capacity when it comes to fingerprints and, to a certain 
degree, odontology.  However, the standards for odontology are still under 
debate in the U.S. and Europe as well.  But DNA – access to high-capacity 
processing of DNA simply isn’t there.  That’s one of those areas that I think 
ICMP is leading the charge with.  

And I know that Interpol is looking forward to standing up their Global Complex 
for Innovation in Singapore, and making that one of the platforms for forensic 
sciences there.  And then, of course, training, capacity building, will become 
a key portion of that strategy.  But ultimately, those issues will be what 
rounds out that platform.  Well, that and international communications among 
the member countries of Interpol to make all that work.

REP. SMITH:  Mr. Masovic, has the other countries come to your Missing Persons 
Institute seeking guidance and recommendations, lessons learned if you will?

MR. MASOVIC:  (Through translation.)  Yes.  Some countries from Latin America –

REP. SMITH:  I can’t hear you.

MR. MASOVIC:  (Through translation.)  Yes.  In fact, that’s true.  Some 
countries from Latin America region requested our help.  They recognized our 
Bosnian model – so-called Bosnian model that today exists in Bosnia, that is in 
fact a good way of identifying the missing persons and finding.  Mostly, right 
now, interested non-government-led organizations, and mostly are family members 
that are involved in these non-government organizations.

 This Bosnia model can be based on three main factors.  And that’s 
collaboration between the government and the victim’s families, then help from 
the international community.  As well, the forensic specialists that are 
involved in the international community and helping us to identify, and not 
just forensic pathologists, but many experts that are holding – giving their 
hands in effort to help.

I believe that this Bosnian model can in fact be used in many different 
counties – countries that are faced with natural disasters, disasters caused by 
human factors or caused by genocide and war crimes.  

REP. SMITH:  Thank you very much.  Ms. Tlisova, the – Fred Cuny of Texas 
disappeared in Chechnya.  Are you aware as to whether or not he – any 
information was ever ascertained about him?  Congressman Frank Wolf, who 
visited Chechnya during the second war there, asked me to ask that question.

MS. TLISOVA:  Actually, I’m not aware –


MS. TLISOVA:  -- of – if there were ever any information, you know, to – we 
already known that he is missing.  No, there was no information, unfortunately.

REP. SMITH:  Let me ask Queen Noor, if I could, do you believe that there’s 
sufficient prioritization within the international community on the work the 
organization and the work itself?  I just came back from the OSCE Parliamentary 
Assembly in Vienna – just got back with some of my colleagues on the staff.  

And while we all have pointed to Bosnia over the years, and the Balkans in 
particular, you know, Russia still does not allow access, like in Chechnya.  
You mentioned Nagorno-Karabakh, you know, these frozen conflicts where the 
animosity continues unabated.  I don’t think we’ve spent enough time on it, and 
I would appreciate your thoughts on that, whether or not you think we do, at 
the OSCE, at the European Union, and of course the U.S. government and U.N.

HER MAJESTY QUEEN NOOR:  Clearly, the United States and those European 
countries that have supported – that supported the creation of the Commission 
on Missing Persons and then have partnered with us in the years since deserve, 
I think, an enormous amount of credit for taking a leap of faith in an 
organization that at that time was an outline, a concept, but no one, I think, 
could have anticipated what it could accomplish, and that I’ve already laid out 

Today, we are deeply concerned by the fact that our mission in the Balkans is, 
at the moment, coming to a close in the coming year and that we are – we do not 
have the funding or, as I said, the international legal status to be able to 
take on the load of requests and challenges that the international community is 
presenting us today.  

And many of these are problems not only in Europe, but also in other parts of 
the world that critically need the kind of support that we can provide – both 
scientific, training, the various different forms that I described earlier – in 
order to put conflicts of the past to rest on – in so many different levels – 
on the personal, communal, national, and even regional basis.  And I – we are 
here today in part because we believe that the United States, in demonstrating 
its ongoing support to us, can have an impact on a number of other countries 
whose support we also need.  

And, God willing, we will see a – you know, in your support and – or your 
interest, which we hope will manifest itself in support –

REP. SMITH:  No, it’s already there.

HER MAJESTY QUEEN NOOR:  – in the support of your government, that we actually 
can perhaps move on to another – onto another level of operation 
internationally, and continue this pioneering work that really is playing such 
an important role in the international community.

REP. SMITH:  We are joined by Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers.  I’d like 
to yield to my friend and colleague.

REP. CATHY MCMORRIS RODGERS (R-WA):  Thank you.  Thank you very much, Mr. 
Chairman.  I was just here to listen, yes.

REP. SMITH:  OK.  But we were talking about the hearing over on the floor, and 
Ms. McMorris Rodgers pointed out she read your book, according to her.

HER MAJESTY QUEEN NOOR:  Thank you.  We – I touched upon the Western Balkans in 
the book, but there’s a great deal more.  And we are leaving documents from the 
meeting today, in case you’re interested in any of the work of the 
International Commission on Missing Persons and the other presentations here 

But we’re so grateful for the interest and the opportunity that we have today 
to talk about these issues that we’ve been – all of us, I think, are in 
agreement – are not given the attention that they deserve, and that if given, 
could probably have quite a significant impact on helping to promote stability 
through more effective recovery from conflict and, God willing, prevention of 
future conflict arising from the kinds of situations that missing persons, at 
least, from conflict – the dynamics that that can set in place if not addressed 
fully, as we have seen in the Balkans and we see today, unfortunately, in other 
parts of the Middle East and Asia and even Latin America.  

So we’re very grateful for the interest and support of this commission.

REP. SMITH:  Let me just ask my final question.  One of the other hats that I 
wear is as chairman of the Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights 
Committee.  And it takes me to Africa frequently, including to Addis, where the 
African Union sits.  And I’m wondering if the work of the ICMP has been sought 
by the AU, the African Union, whether or not David Crane’s Sierra Leone court 
used some of the expertise that you’ve developed, whether the Rwandan court, 
for that matter – since obviously, they’re very similar to the Yugoslav court.


REP. SMITH:  Could you put on your –

HER MAJESTY QUEEN NOOR:  So sorry, again.  We haven’t been approached by the 
AU, and Rwanda also, no – we haven’t been approached.  We – are we providing 
technical assistance to any African country?

MS.:  No, not –

HER MAJESTY QUEEN NOOR:  Not currently.  We have received requests and Rwanda 
is one case.  But at the moment, no, we’re not.

REP. SMITH:  But that would also underscore why further –


REP. SMITH:  – strengthening of your ability to do international work –


REP. SMITH:  – is all the more warranted, so that you could share that 
expertise.  Would any of you like to say anything before we conclude, final 
comments?  Been an extraordinary panel, Mr. – (inaudible) – and I want to thank 
you so much.  The information that you have provided will be shared very, very 
widely with all of the other members, the commissioners, and will help us in 
our conversations with the executive branch, especially –

MR.:  (Off mic, inaudible.)

REP. SMITH:  Oh, yes.  Please.  I yield to Ms. McMorris Rodgers.

REP. MCMORRIS RODGERS:  (Chuckles.)  Thank you, Mr. Chairman.  Well, I’ll just 
ask a couple of questions, since we have some time here.  First, to Queen Noor, 
how do you see the ICMP’s work differing from the work carried out by the 
International Committee of the Red Cross?

HER MAJESTY QUEEN NOOR:  We are an independent, impartial entity that is able 
to, in fact, work in different arenas, especially as so much of our approach is 
based on rule of law and the importance not only of science – also our emphasis 
on DNA distinguishes us – but also on the ability to introduce into court 
testimony, our findings, and that – which has proven to be part of the reason 
we’ve been so successful, for example, in the Western Balkans.  

These are both areas that – in which our work differs from any other 
organization, really, and why we’ve been able to be effective at – in 
demonstrating that it’s not just a humanitarian challenge, but it is a 
rule-of-law and, really, government credibility challenge in so many different 
countries, in helping these – the countries who we’ve worked with craft 
legislation and develop rule-of-law institutions for tackling this problem.  
We’ve shown how important that approach can be in generating the kind of 
success which has been unprecedented.

REP. MCMORRIS RODGERS:  Thank you.  And then to Mr. Bray, disappearances in 
some countries occur without (sic) the knowledge and complicity of the very 
state agencies that have access to the Interpol system.  What mechanisms does 
Interpol have in place to prevent such internal corruption from degrading the 
overall quality of the information Interpol maintains?

MR. BRAY:  Well, first off, Interpol is an organization of international law 
enforcement for law enforcement.  So immediately, there should be a commitment 
– and I realize this sounds a little altruistic – but there should be a 
commitment to honor and respect the rules under which we all agree to operate.  
Having said that, there is a commission for the control of files which does 
review notices that are published in contradiction to the established rules, 
and certainly, the constitution of Interpol.  

Having said that, Interpol constantly reviews these rules and updates them.  
The last update was just now this past November at the general assembly in 
Hanoi.  It was approved with an overwhelming majority and will be implemented 
in June.  So that’ll give Interpol a greater review authority and a greater 
ability to revoke those notices that fall outside of those specifications.

REP. MCMORRIS RODGERS:  OK, thank you.  And then Fatima Tlisova from the Voice 
of America, I just had a question.  A direct consequence of the Russian 
government shying away from its responsibility in atrocities committed during 
the Chechen wars is a lack of commitment, on its part, to the identification 
cause.  There are no laws in place to prevent actions that seriously compromise 
the identification process – construction workers building around and over 
graves, for example.

In current international law, there lacks a mechanism to protect the rights of 
the missing unidentified.  And as a result, governments are able to block or 
hinder the identification process, making it exceedingly difficult for 
organizations and individuals to identify the missing.  How can we begin to 
develop the mechanism or legislation to address this shortcoming in the current 
law?  And it is feasible or it – has there ever been a movement in that 
direction, and what is the progress?

MS. TLISOVA:  I can start from – with an example.  In the city of – (inaudible) 
– there are still refrigerators from the first Chechen war, full with the 
bodies of Russian soldiers, young men who were recruited by the government, 
sent to Chechnya, killed, and still are not identified and sent to their 
parents, their families.  And they still are counted as missing.  So for the 
government who does not care for its own soldiers, it is very difficult to 
believe that it’s going to care for the other part, for the victims which it 
considered at the time as enemies, and for their – especially for the combatant 

So in my view, if this bill will be passed and the commission will be granted 
the status probably – the immunity to be a global commission, with the 
possibility to access without government restrictions to any place, probably 
like Red Cross or other organizations, that would be a solution.  The other 
part is to – as I said before, to deal directly, to contact to the 
nongovernment – to the nongovernment channels and to help people on the ground 
who try to be involved. 

And also, there is a lack of personnel, a lack of finances, corruption – all 
together, all these problems create, you know, a major inability for the 
Russians, that maybe a lack of will to solve this problem.  So my suggestion is 
to raise probably – to create an international organization probably to grant 
this commission access to the area without permission from the local 
governments, or to work directly with – and through internal channels.

REP. RODGERS:  Thank you.  And it was great just to have the chance to hear 
some.  I appreciate everything that you all are doing all around the world on 
this issue.  Thanks.

REP. SMITH:  We have three minutes to vote, so the hearing’s adjourned.  Thank 
you so very much for your extraordinary –