Participants being taken through forensic and archeological identification process during the academy in Guatemala
Human rights activists from across the world had the opportunity of attending a forensic academy in Guatemala, thanks to the support by the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience (New York), Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR, South Africa), and Forensic Anthropology Foundation of Guatemala.
The training that ran from 18th to 30th May 2019 was also attended by our Executive Director Peter Kiama. The main objectives of the academy were to increase knowledge in forensic work, establish a network of organizations working on forensics in different countries and to support implementation of a small project in each country to entrench forensic practice in those countries.
Among the sessions covered in the academy themed Forensics in Transitional Justice and the Search for the Disappeared were;
- Victim investigation and Identification including chain of custody of information and evidence, and establishment of standardized data base;
- Forensic archaeology: The application of methods and techniques of archaeological search and recovery in forensic contexts where bodies or skeletal remains were buried.
- Forensic anthropology: A subdivision of physical or biological anthropology: Focused to solve problems of human identification and interpretation of bone trauma in medico-legal contexts to establish the cause of death. It combines information from forensic sciences, social anthropology, archeology, genetics, medicine, dentistry with forensic anthropology.
- Genetics: Human identification using Genetic Profiles (family member sample and bone sample)
- Memorialization and Truth Telling: Preservation of memories of people and events related to human rights violations and resilience.
Ideally, participatory process of building collective narratives to deal with the past, based on testimonies of victims and survivors aimed at ensuring non repetition of human rights violations.
Truth-telling: Testimonial truth-telling from victims and survivors, tensions with judicial truth based on evidence which is to be validated by institutions.
Memorialization: museums, monuments, ceremonies, preservation of sites of horror, publications, art forms.
During the Academy, the participants were also introduced to IMLU and the work that we do on forensics. Additionally, the participants were also introduced to theoretical sessions on investigations, forensic archaeology, forensic anthropology, genetics and DNA, and memorialization.
After the Academy, each participant is expected to implement a 4 months project of their choice either focusing on using archaeology, forensic anthropology or genetics to exhume and identify human remains, or memorialization and truth telling; or psychosocial methods to support healing for families, or as complimentary to the others above.