Library of Congress Summary
The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress.
Missing Service Personnel Act of 1988 - Requires the responsible uniformed service commander, after receiving notice that a person under his command is missing, to conduct an informal investigation to determine such person's whereabouts and, if appropriate, to place such person in a missing status.
Requires the commander, if a person has been placed in such status, to notify the officer holding general court-martial authority over such person (or, in the case of a missing civilian, the Secretary concerned), who shall convene a board of initial inquiry within 30 days.
Requires such board to:
(1) investigate evidence relating to the disappearance of such person;
(2) recommend whether to continue such person in a missing status or make a finding that such person has deserted, is absent without leave, or is dead; and
(3) report its recommendations and findings.
Provides for the convening of a board of further inquiry, if a board of initial inquiry recommends that such person be continued in a missing status, within one year of such recommendation.
Requires such board to analyze any information which has become available since the board of initial inquiry issued its report, to determine whether such person should be continued in a missing status or declared dead, and to report its findings.
Directs the Secretary concerned, upon the written request of a member of the immediate family of a missing person who, before the date of the enactment of this Act, was determined by the Secretary to be dead, to:
(1) convene a board of further inquiry to determine whether such finding of death should be upheld or such person should be placed in a missing status; and
(2) report its findings.
Requires the Secretary, within three years after a board of further inquiry recommends a missing status for any person, to reconvene such board to review such status.
Specifies the composition of such boards.
Allows the Secretary to invite each member of the immediate family of the missing person to the meetings of a board of initial inquiry.
Requires the Secretary to:
(1) invite family members of missing persons to meetings of boards of further inquiry;
(2) schedule such meetings at convenient locations and times;
(3) provide such family members with reasonable notice of such meetings; and
(4) open such meetings to the general public.
Authorizes each board to hold meetings, take testimony, receive evidence, and secure directly from any U.S. department or agency any information necessary to carry out its duties.
Provides for the appointment of counsel by the officer or Secretary concerned to represent the missing person.
Requires that, if a board determines that a missing person is dead, it shall include in its report a detailed description of the location and date of death, whether the body has been recovered, and whether a licensed practitioner of forensic medicine determined that the body recovered is that of the missing person.
Prohibits any such board from declaring a missing person dead unless:
(1) evidence other than the passage of time suggests that such person is dead;
(2) no evidence which reasonably suggests that such person is alive is in the possession of the Government;
(3) representatives of the Government have made a complete search of the area where such person was last seen (unless the United States is not granted access to such area); and
(4) Government representatives have checked the records of the government or entity having control over the area where such person was last seen (unless the Government is not granted access to such records).
Provides for judicial review of determinations of death upon the filing of a written petition by any member of the missing person's immediate family.
Directs the Secretary of the uniformed service in which a missing person serves to make certain that such person's personnel file contains all information in the possession of Federal departments and agencies pertaining to the disappearance or whereabouts of such person.
Requires the Secretary to make certain that, if classified information is withheld, such file contains:
(1) a notice that the information exists; and
(2) a notice of the date of the most recent review of the classification status of the information.
Sets forth penalties for knowingly withholding information pertaining to the disappearance or whereabouts of a missing person from that person's personnel file.
Requires the Secretary concerned to make the contents of such file available to a member of the immediate family of such person upon written request.
House Democratic Caucus Summary
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