27 March 2009: A delegation of eight geneticists from three Colombian forensics institutions working on the issue of enforced disappearances visited and received training at the operational centers of the International Commission on Missing Persons in Bosnia and Herzegovina from 8th to 21st March, 2009.
The ICMP operates the world’s largest DNA laboratory system dedicated to the identification of persons missing as a result of armed conflict, violations of human rights or mass disasters. As such ICMP currently assists Colombia to enhance its capacity to indentify large numbers of missing persons from the country’s internal armed conflicts.
The DNA training for the scientists was aimed at improving the success rates for the extraction of genetic profiles from human remains recovered from clandestine grave sites through the use of ICMP extraction protocols. The training should provide for a faster extraction process with less contamination and contribute to the standardization of extraction procedures between Colombian DNA laboratories.
The Colombian delegation consisted of representatives from the National Institute of Legal Medicine and Forensic Sciences (INMLCF), the Technical Investigation Body of the State Prosecutor’s Office (CTI), and the Judicial Police Directorate (DIJIN). ICMP hopes the trained geneticists will act as trainers upon their return to Colombia.
“We are going to implement several aspects of this work model, as we are sure that it will help us to improve our identification processes in Colombia because of our experience working in the world’s best laboratory in terms of working with DNA-led human identification processes,” said Rocio del Pilar Lizarazo Quintero from the Technical Investigation Body of the State Prosecutor’s Office.
“This training will help us identify thousands of Colombians, victims of the political situation and the internal conflict, and it is an honour for us that ICMP, as the international organization with the widest experience and highest technical standards in the field of human identification has offered us its support,” said Martha Lucia Camargo Hernandez from the National Institute of Legal Medicine and Forensic Sciences.
“Colombia is well advanced in addressing the issue of the missing,” said ICMP’s Director-General Ms. Kathryne Bomberger, “but representatives from various institutions have recognized the need to enhance aspects of the process, and the training we have provided here in Bosnia is a hugely positive step forward in demonstrating how ICMP can assist Colombia in its efforts to deal with the issue of enforced disappearance.”
In August 2008, ICMP released a report entitled “Colombia’s Response to Enforced Disappearances”, followed by the opening of an ICMP branch office in Bogota. The current training, part of ICMP’s continuing assistance to the country, was implemented with the support of UNDP, AECID, GTZ ProFis and the UK Embassy in Colombia.