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13.06.2017 General News

Regional Security Forces Tasked To Adopt Forensic Science In Evidence Gathering

By Abubakari Seidu Ajarfor
Regional Security Forces Tasked To Adopt Forensic Science In Evidence Gathering

Investigators, public prosecution officers and judicial authorities from West African countries have been more sensitized to increase cooperation and support for forensic science in investigations and criminal proceedings towards the fight against violations of the rights of women and the youth in their country.

“How can we use scientific and technical police techniques in the course of investigations and thus contribute to the fight against delinquency? It was to this major question that the delegations of some ten West African countries had attempted to respond to a workshop on the issue in Abidjan.”

The approach, which is a vital component as far as collection of material evidence is concerned, is to support the judicial system in the adjudication of disputes and criminal cases brought before the law courts.

The sensitization workshop dubbed, “Role of Technical and Scientific Police in Investigation and Criminal Proceedings,” organised by ARTECAO seeks to Model a standard forensic practice, suitable for countries of the sub-region and establishment of a Regional Technical Resource and Training Centre for Forensics.

The Abidjan Workshop, which served as a framework for exchanges and collaboration between the various West African policies, helped to overcome the difficulties faced by the defence and security forces of the region in realizing the use of scientific investigative techniques.

Participants from ECOWAS countries such as Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and Togo met at the National Police School (ENP) in Abidjan to facilitate the implementation of a standard forensic science model that is suitable for countries of the sub region.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Mr. Emmanuel Prat, regional coordinator of the ARTECAO project, clarified the main objective pursued by this two-day workshop is to achieve a regional awareness of the essential role of the technical and scientific police in the Search for evidence, together with its effective and efficient use during investigations.

He added that the ARTECAO project is to achieve a regional awareness of the vital role of forensic science in the search for evidence supported by their effective and efficient use by States (and more particularly investigators, public prosecution offices) in judicial proceedings.

The Deputy Director-General in charge of the Ivorian police, the Comptroller General Dibi Koffi Bruno, expressed his deepest appreciation to France, the ARTECAO Project and the partners present (ECOWAS, INTERPOL, JICA, UNDP and UNODC).

The workshop enabled the participants to take stock of the technical and scientific police in their respective countries and to draw inspiration from each other's experiences.

The group work allowed the participants to identify the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats related to STP in their countries.

Common challenges included budget, training and human resource challenges.

Some challenges are that ECOWAS countries have well-equipped donor-funded forensic laboratories, while others only have poorly equipped facilities.

Some forensic laboratories are located only in the capital cities. While some countries have additional technical facilities, the lack of regional cooperation does not allow neighbouring countries to benefit from such facilities.

To that end, participants made recommendations to the authorities of their respective countries which include the need to provide the STP services with a budget allowing for their development, operation and equipment, and encouraging referral to the Abidjan Central Police Laboratory (LCPS).

Meanwhile, during the 14th session of the meeting of Police Chiefs held in Niger in September 2013 under the auspices of Interpol and ECOWAS, it was recommended that these agencies take steps to strengthen the operational capacities of the forensic laboratory in Côte d'Ivoire to upgrade it to a Regional Centre for Research and Forensic Training.

This recommendation was endorsed by the political leaders and captured in the final report of the Forum of ECOWAS Ministers in charge of Security in September 2013 in Niamey.

In support of this Regional Cooperation policy, ARTECAO is fully consistent with the cooperation strategy and in line with France's Sahelo-Saharan strategy and, more broadly, in line with the strategies of the UN, EU, and regional organisations, particularly ECOWAS to ensure that clear and indisputable evidence is provided, forensic science becomes the key element in achieving fair reparation.

Find the recommendations below
The draft recommendations from the ARTECAO workshop in Abidjan (7-8 June) on the role of PTS in the investigation and the criminal trial tasked each member state to adopt the following steps;

Designate a national coordinator specialising in the field and conversant with PTS issues, to serve as a single interlocutor for the State according to the peculiars of each country.

Involve the National Coordinator in the studies and prospects as well as in the preparation of major decisions likely to have a direct or indirect impact on the conduct of the PTS.

Provide PTS services with a budget for their development, operation and equipment.

Seek support from ECOWAS and ACPCO, INTERPOL, UNODC, EU, Ambassadors and other Organizations with projects prepared as an action plan.

Implement a PTS model.
Be mindful of the preconditions and the voluntary work for the provision of trainees to be sent for training.

Assign trained staff to the ad hoc PTS departments.

Request the expertise of the Regional Coordinator of ARTECAO, in its focus areas (PTS-PJ).

Disclose all information and documents (Acts, Orders, Orders, Circulars, Memoranda, Statistics, Activity Reports) relevant to the achievement of the objectives).

Provide the infrastructure, equipment, materials and skilled personnel necessary to achieve the objectives.

Recognize the specificity of the PTS and incentivise (bonus, allowance) trainers and experts in the field to ensure staff retention towards achieving the objectives.

Promote initial/in-service training of relevant stakeholders (magistrates, gendarmes, police officers).

Adopt a status of trainers and integrate the training modules proposed under the curricula of the training centres.

Develop the forensic police across all law enforcement agencies throughout the country.

Ensure that bridging trainers take ownership of the full training package delivered under the project in the interest of sustainability.

Encourage referral to the Abidjan Central Forensic Laboratory (LCPS), acting as regional institution pursuant to the recommendations of the CCPAO and ECOWAS in 2013.

Encourage cooperation with the forensic laboratories (LPS) in the sub-region such as the Accra Forensic Lab.

Deploy the PTS model created under component 1 of the ARTECAO project with political support from ECOWAS.