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Medical Forensic Training project in Afghanistan considered a success

The medical forensic project was engineered by EUPOL back in April 2014. Since then, Mircea Milos, FO Herat Justice Mentor/Advisors (he ended his mission few weeks ago), paved the way to enhance forensics in Herat province in order to develop and sustain Afghan capabilities to process evidence in accordance with accepted scientific standards. The vision was to expand the recognition of forensics as   a method of criminal investigations and related fair judgment by Judicial Authority, according to Afghan law system.

After a great success of the first training package delivered on Spring 2014, the project was further developed envisaging chiefly two areas of intervention. Firstly providing equipment for both forensic lab and for medical forensic department within the ministry of Public Health in Herat province, bearing in mind sustainable principle. Secondly, training activities intended for investigators, Prosecutors, Judges and lawyers, safeguarding local ownership, buy-in and strategic vision as core norms.  As for the equipment, they are on their way, thanks also to great effort of EUPOL Project Unit.

Both, providing equipment and training activities were ratified by a memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed  by EUPOL, Head of Mission – Karl Ake Roghe,   Afghan Independent Bar Association (AIBA), Mr. Ahmad Rafi Nadiri , Herat Appeal Court – Chief Judge, Mr. Zubair, Herat Police Headquarter – PcoP BG Abdul Baqi Behsodi, Herat Prosecution office – Mrs Maria Bashir Herat,  Military Prosecution office – Chief Military Prosecutor General Ghader and Herat Forensic Department – Deputy head of Department Dr. Mohammadi, after several meeting among the stakeholders and chaired by Chief Judges Zubair

AIBA representative, Mr. Ahmad Rafi Nadiri, has been facilitating and coordinating the day to day work leading to the present results whereas Dr. Basiryar – Herat Forensic Department – agreed to provided for a pool of trainers (6 medical doctors). Finally AIBA facilities was utilized as venue of the training.

First forensic training program:

On 8-12 Nov the first 5 day Forensic training course was held.  Six medical doctors specialized in medical forensic one criminal Techniques CID officer, one AIBA defense lawyer trained  24 participants (2 females), CID officers, prosecutors, military prosecutors, judges and defense lawyers  hosted and facilitated by AIBA (local manager). Activities by members of the local pool of trainers (with Herat Medical Forensic Department,).). The program was completely led and owned by the local Afghan counterparts. On Nov 10 as part of the forensic training program, participants visited ISAF-CTSC-A-managed forensic lab and were given by the Afghan staff (mentored and trained by CSTC-A mentors) practical examples/exercises on forensic procedures and products (fingerprint analysis, ballistics, photography analysis, chemical substances analysis, etc.) subsequently, the participants also visited the Herat Medical Forensic Department within the Ministry of Public Health. Amongst the presentations they had the opportunity to visit the department’s morgue where they could examine the corpses of the three Taliban members (and were given a brief lecture on legal medicine and autopsy practices.

Second forensic training program

On 29 Nov to 03 December the second Investigation and Prosecution (Medical Forensic Module) training program began as part of the Forensic Project with 19 participants from Herat AGO, Herat Court and AIBA. In accordance with the courses agenda. On 01 December participants visited the MoI Forensic Laboratory where lectures and presentations were given to them on different fields of forensic such as dactoloscopy, ballistics and forensic data extraction.

Third forensic training program

On December 15-20 the third Investigation and Prosecution (Medical Forensic Module) training program began as part of the Forensic project with 23 participants from Herat Court, Prosecution office, military prosecution office and defense lawyers among them 6 were females. . Activities by members of the local pool of trainers (6 medical doctors from Herat Forensic Department).  On December 18 as part of the program, participants visited the MoI forensic lab and were given lectures by the pool of Afghan mentors and practical examples/exercises on forensic procedures and products (fingerprint analysis, ballistics, photography analysis, chemical substances analysis, etc.) subsequently the participants also visited the Herat Medical Forensic Department within the Ministry of Public Health.

Massimo Pani – head of EUPOL Herat FO, Giuseppe Roccotelli – Deputy head of FO, Salvatore Butera – senior mentor/advisor and Arunas  Tamasauskas – FO RoL Mentor/Adviser Gender & Human Rights were present at the visit of forensic lab where they met the participants, the instructors and Col. Marafat – Herat forensic laboratory manager.

All the participants of the all the three rounds of the training program expressed full satisfaction over the program and acknowledged that they had gained a great deal of experience/ knowledge of forensic in crime detection and during the training program. The presence of women increased during the third training program and the pool of trainers performed well during the whole program. All the participants appreciated the EUPOL for funding the program and thanked AIBA for managing and owning the program. They also requested EUPOL to hold similar programs at district levels in Herat province. According the participants, such training programs proved to bring judges, prosecutors, and CID police on one table to work on more practical methods when dealing with criminal cases. The training also strengthen and empowered the role of medical forensic in crime detection (which is a new field) in Afghanistan and particularly in Herat. As an example of the results obtained by EUPOL commitment Ms. Sonbol Sediqi – Defense lawyer at AIBA said that she believes that the program was very useful especially because it strengthened the role of Forensic Field in crime detection. She added that more and more similar programs must be conducted to get as much lawyers, judges, prosecutors and CID officer as possible in order to let them accustomed to the importance of the forensic while dealing with criminal cases.

Also Mr. Abdul Hakim Arampour – Defense Lawyer from AIBA wanted to express his opinion. Mr. Akrampour said that he learned a lot during the training program. The program also helped him learned things that he would have never been able to learn especially ballistic, poisoning, types of wounds, etc. He was very appreciative for EUPOL to fund the program. Finally,  Mr. Ahmad Ersahd (Judge from Herat appeal court) stated: I really liked this program because I learned that Forensic doctors have a great job to do to help us decide on criminal cases. I believe that a judge must have a rudimentary knowledge of forensic to be able to make fair and free judgments and such trainings must continue. We need more judges and prosecutors to undergo similar trainings. At the end, EUPOL Herat achieved what its aim was and thus fair judgment by Judicial Authority, according to Afghan law system. This concepts is better clarified by a Herat Judge who said “I was totally unaware of the role of Forensic in crime detection. Now I learned a lot about the important role of this field in our job because with the evidence that they produce and send to us we can made fair and good judgments on cases”.

The whole program involving judges, prosecutors, defense lawyers and CID officers paved the way for all these organs to consolidate their efforts and share ideas and remove differences and move on one unified direction. The participants of the training who included judges, prosecutors, defense lawyers and CID officers had an open table to put their ideas on and to share their ideas and experiences with their counterparts and reach solutions for problems that have been afflicting the legal and judiciary organs for many years. All in all, the majority of the participants showed great enthusiasm in the programs and wanted similar programs to get underway in the future so that more and more judges, prosecutors, defense lawyer and CID officer benefit the experience.

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EUPOL Afghanistan

EUPOL Afghanistan (European Union Police Mission in Afghanistan) is a civilian Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) mission. It has since its establishment in 2007 supported the reform efforts of the Afghan Government in building a civilian police service that operates within an improved rule of law framework and in respect of human rights. The Mission is part of the EU's long-term commitment and contributes to the EU's overall political and strategic objectives in Afghanistan.

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