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Missing persons files digitised

Presidential Commissioner for Overseas Cypriots Fotis Fotiou

A number of testimonies concerning missing persons have not been yet assessed even after 42 years, Commissioner for Humanitarian affairs Fotis Fotiou said on Wednesday.

Fotiou presented the digitisation project of some 2,000 files on missing persons with the aim of creating a database, which could be used by all services dealing with the issue.

“The basic aim is the effective utilisation of information,” Fotiou said. He added that this was also a goal set by President Nicos Anastasiades.

Among the digitised files are dozens of testimonies and information for each area in which missing persons were last seen.

He added that users of the database will be able to retrieve all existing information concerning different locations. An important element, Fotiou said, is the classification per informant “and there are hundreds of testimonies”.

“There are still testimonies, which after 42 years, have not been evaluated and through digitisation this will become feasible,” Fotiou said. He added that this information will be available to the police, the office of the Greek Cypriot member of the Committee for Missing Persons, the National Guard and other services.

The digitisation of the files of the missing persons service is a significant step which is expected to greatly help in research and to the more effective evaluation of data and information on the missing persons, he said.

“The fate of our missing persons, is for us a matter of utmost importance and priority, particularly during this period where Turkey refuses to cooperate, and to provide information from the archives of the Turkish army,” Fotiou said. Turkey possesses information on the removal of remains and on mass graves, he said.

He added that research “is the most important tool we have right now to help resolve this humanitarian problem”.

Relatives of missing persons will have access to that material, he said, but not the general public for obvious reasons. In the case other agencies or researchers want access, they would be given permission only after their request is evaluated by the missing persons service.

The archives of the missing persons service contain most sensitive information, Fotiou said, including testimonies, letters, ante-mortem data of the missing persons, personal and family information.

In addition to this project, Fotiou said that there are efforts to secure testimonies from Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots who possess information and are in a position to help locate more remains of missing persons.

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