African School of Forensic Sciences and Human Rights
Many African countries have histories of internal repression and involvement in regional conflicts, as well as the resulting human rights violations. With the exception of a few countries, a lack of accountability and a general climate of impunity persists for past and current human rights abuses. EAAF has worked in 13 African countries, including long-term engagements in Ethiopia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe, among others. From our experience, EAAF has observed that very few independent human rights investigations have been carried out, and the forensic sciences and use of physical evidence are hardly ever a component of human rights or criminal investigations.
To help improve local forensic capacity, the use of forensic evidence in criminal and human rights cases, and the connections between forensic experts and victims’ families and human rights organizations, EAAF is co-founding an African School of Forensic Sciences and Human Rights, a professional development school most likely to be located in Durban, South Africa. The school will be hosted by EAAF in partnership with local forensic experts and the African Network of Forensic Medicine. The school will start with a month-long course and accept 15 fully-funded students per year, either by application or invitation, and is open to forensic pathologists, anthropologists, geneticists, archaeologists, nurses and paramedics from across Africa. Two or three slots will be reserved for applicants from human rights NGOs. The coursework will cover the basics of: applying forensic anthropology, archaeology, and genetics to human rights investigations; collecting ante-mortem data from relatives; surveying and excavating individual and mass graves; identifying human remains; analyzing bone trauma; presenting expert reports; and cultural and religious issues regarding handling remains and exhumations.
The courses will initially run for one month, but additional, more specialized, courses could be added later. EAAF will also incorporate shorter training courses for human rights organizations to reinforce the link between forensic training and human rights work, as well as a training program at EAAF’s anthropological and genetic laboratories in Argentina for African forensic practitioners, as a complement to the training received at the school. Establishing the school will provide practical training for forensic practitioners in the region, addressing the lack of formal coursework at the university level and infrequent multidisciplinary forensic investigations in the area.
- The first course is scheduled to be held in October/November 2012. For further information on the course, and to submit an application, please click here.
- The first genetics training module in Argentina is scheduled to be held in December 2012. For further information on the course, and to submit an application, please click here.