JSRP has developed a forensic support program for the Colombian justice sector that focuses on the forensic analytical areas and the experts that directly support criminal investigations; DNA analysis (CODIS); Ballistics (IBIS), Fingerprints (AFIS); and questioned documents examination (QD) with particular emphasis on the development of forensic and investigative capabilities in exhumation of grave sites and DNA identification of victim remains.
Special attention has been given to the development of forensic anthropologists and exhumation teams that work with the Human Rights and the Justice and Peace Units. As of February 2011, JSRP had completed over fourteen Archaeology Field Courses that provide Colombian professionals, who work with the exhumation of human remains, the tools and knowledge necessary to conduct high quality scientific excavations. The Archaeology Field Courses are taught by Department of Justice and U.S. military forensic anthropologists and include simulated exhumation of mass graves, so students can learn how to identify victims and collect evidence. JSRP has trained over 300 professional forensic anthropologists, photographers, topographers, and others who work in the field, the scientific methodology behind the proper excavation of a clandestine grave site, as of February 2011.
DOJ is funding and guiding the construction of a CTI Human Remains Processing Center in Medellin, which will open mid 2011, to help accelerate the identification process of human remains exhumed from the multiple grave sites located as a result of the Justice and Peace process. The center will accelerate the DNA identification and forensic anthropology processes to facilitate quicker human remains’ identification and return to families.
DOJ’s support in the area of forensics also includes the donation of a wireless network that allows the secure transmission of documents between prosecutors, investigators and forensic experts. DOJ has donated the CODIS database as well as the initial donation of IBIS and AFIS, extensive forensic laboratory equipment, exhumation kits, computers, crime scene kits, and forensic processing equipment. DOJ has also assisted in obtaining international certification for Colombian forensic labs.
The forensic program also includes training in:
- Demonstrative Evidence
- Expert Witness Testimony
- Forensic Interview of Minors
- Investigation and Prosecution of Sex Crimes
- Topography Workshops
To provide forensic assistance in Colombia, DOJ staffs a senior forensic advisor, a DNA examiner, a forensic anthropologist and also counts with assistance from U.S. forensic laboratories and personnel in the United States.