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Serbia and Montenegro: new study highlights the rights and needs of missing persons' families

25-10-2004 News Release 04/127

The ICRC has just released a study on the rights and needs of families in Serbia and Montenegro whose relatives went missing during the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia. The study was launched in Belgrade at an event attended by government officials, families' organizations, journalists and representatives of the national Red Cross Society.

The report is the fruit of three years'research and analysis by the ICRC's delegation in Serbia and Montenegro. It covers the legal and administrative obstacles facing the families of missing persons, such as access to social benefits and pensions, inheritance and property issues, custody of children, obtaining documents and declaring a missing person dead. The document also recommends improvements to administrative procedures, changes in existing legislation, a new law on missing persons, and the adoption of agreements between the states and territories of the former Yugoslavia.
 
Aimed mainly at the authorities, the study will support efforts to improve families'legal situation and will be used during a series of forthcoming meetings, discussions and round tables.

The ICRC has been working with the families of missing persons since fighting in the former Yugoslavia started in the early 1990s. In particular, the organization helps them exercise their right to find out what has happened to missing relatives. The ICRC and the region's Red Cross Societies have received more than 32,500 requests to trace such people. More than 22,500 of these cases remain unresolved, most of them involving civilians.

    

 For further information, please contact  

 Daniela Nikolic, ICRC Belgrade, tel.: ++ 381 11 3441 522  

 Florian Westphal, ICRC Geneva, tel.: ++41 22 730 29 30 or ++41 79 217 32 26