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Political Changes Influence Forensic Science in Colombia

NCJ Number
Forensic Magazine Volume: 5 Issue: 4 Dated: August /September 2008 Pages: 14,16-18,20,22,23
Laurie Sperling M.Arch, CPSM; Gabriela Kleiman LEED AP
Date Published
August 2008
7 pages
This article provides an overview of a model forensic facility in the Republic of Columbia.
The Human Remains Identification Center in Columbia is a fundamental component to the ongoing struggle against narcoterrorism, and will assist Columbia in bringing security and justice to its citizens. It is noted that Colombia is one of the most violent countries in the Occidental world. While small by size and population in comparison to the United States (U.S.), the Seventh United Nations Survey of Crime Trends and Operations (1998-2000) indicated more than 10 times the U.S. numbers of homicides, with the cause of most of these deaths primarily from the on-going violence stemming from drug trafficking and civil war. Since 2000, Colombia has been successful in reducing the homicide rate by 40 percent, kidnappings by 83 percent, and terrorist attacks by 76 percent. Three specific initiatives were credited with synergistically having impacted this improvement: the implementation of a new judicial system; internal political change with community support; and U.S. forensic science training and assistance to Colombia’s national lab system. The International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program (ICITAP), which provides technical assistance and training in many countries around the world in the field of forensics sciences, began in Latin America. Created in 1986, within the Department of Justice and funded by the U.S. State Department, to build capacity to prosecute key human rights cases in El Salvador and to enhance the criminal investigative capacity of police forces in Latin America, ICITAP continued through the 1990s, delivering training in every country in Central America, more than half of the countries in South America, and nearly all of the English-speaking Caribbean.