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Release of Prisoners in Former Yugoslavia

29-01-1996 News Release 96/4

Geneva (ICRC) - This statement on the release of prisoners in former Yugoslavia was made at 10 a.m. GMT by Mr Beat Schweizer, ICRC Head of Delegation, Sarajevo.

Over the past two days more than 500 prisoners have been freed by all sides. These former prisoners are now reunited with their families, some of them after a separation of several years. In this respect, the ICRC wishes to express its appreciation for the efforts made by all parties. The releases of the past days are an important part of the implementation of the peace agreement and have become a reality thanks to very strong support by the High Representative and the international community. The ICRC particularly wishes to thank the IFOR units for their support during the operation.

After these latest releases, however, over 100 people are still held in connection with the conflict, 63 of whom are the subject of war crime investigations by one or other of the three parties. In accordance with its mandate, the ICRC will continue to visit all these prisoners.

It will likewise act on all information obtained concerning any other prisoners. To this effect, lists of  known prisoners who remain unaccounted for have been transmitted to the parties and the ICRC expects answers as to the present whereabouts of these people. It has still not been granted access by the Bosnian government to people held in the military wing of the prison in Tuzla.

Furthermore, a working group comprising the three parties and representatives of the international community will be set up shortly to ascertain the fate and whereabouts of thousands of other persons still unaccounted for. The families concern ed have the right to be given precise answers as soon as possible.