In This Section
By enabling the identification of remains, forensic analysis of DNA can be an important tool for establishing evidence of mass atrocities. Such identifications can also help establish a historical record and provide answers to survivors whose love ones disappeared during conflict. Additionally, forensic DNA analysis can help reunite families, especially in situations where children were separated from their parents at a young age. The Forensic Program aims to improve the use of forensic DNA analysis both to hold perpetrators accountable and to help families separated by conflict. Funded by a grant from the US Department of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, the program includes two primary projects.
EL SALVADOR DNA REUNIFICATION PROJECT
Since 2006, the Human Rights Center has helped to reunite families torn apart by the armed conflict in El Salvador (1980-1992), seeking to hold the Salvadoran government accountable for its military policy of abducting children from families who resided in villages where the fighting occurred. The genesis of this effort and HRC's partnership with Asociación Pro Búsqueda de Niñas y Niños Desaparecidos, (The Association for Disappeared Children), an NGO in San Salvador, reunites families with children who were abducted or surrendered under duress during the war.
Extending the Human Rights Center's history of supporting efforts to identify children removed from their parents during El Salvador's civil war, the current project:
Provides technical and financial support to the Asociación Pro Búsqueda de Niñas y Niños Desaparecidos. HRC is working with Pro Búsqueda to expand the organization's scientific capacity, strengthen its investigative abilities, and enhance its provision of legal and psychological counseling to family members
Supports the first scientific exhumations to identify remains of children reported missing from families during the conflict.
- Is initiating a national meeting and developing a long-term plan to strengthen national systems for the scientific search and identification of the disappeared in El Salvador.
The project involves collaborations with the International Commission on Missing Persons in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and coordinates its activities with the Guatemala Forensic Anthropology Foundation (FAFG, Fundación de Antropología Forense de Guatemala), which is providing additional training to Pro Búsqueda’s head geneticist, and the Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team (EAAF, Equipo Argentino de Antropología Forense), the organization responsible for the exhumations.
Forensic Program Human Rights Center Berkeley Law 2850 Telegraph Avenue Berkeley, CA 94705 510.642.0965 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: hrc.berkeley.edu
INTERNATIONAL INVESTIGATIONS AND PROSECUTIONS
The Human Rights Center is establishing collaborations with the Investigations Division, Office of the Prosecutor (OTP), including providing technical assistance in support of three goals:
- Improve OTP’s capacity to collect and analyze evidence of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide
- Establish an ongoing exchange of ideas, expertise, and strategies for the application of new and emerging forensic technologies to judicial investigations of international crimes
- Produce a list of strategic and technological resources and recommendations for practical applications by investigators and prosecutors to improve their success in holding accountable those responsible for international crimes.
A number of publications in the form of manuals, to be defined jointly between the HRC and OTP’s Investigations Division should result from these efforts.
For more information, contact program director Cristián Orrego.