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17 February 2011

Boosting forensic capabilities in Americas focus of INTERPOL meeting

GUATEMALA – Specialists from Central America and Mexico have taken part in an INTERPOL meeting aimed at promoting the use of DNA, Disaster Victim Identification (DVI) and fingerprint services to encourage greater information exchange and co-ordination at the regional and international level.

The five-day meeting (7-11 February) in Guatemala City brought together 22 DNA, DVI and fingerprint experts from Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Mexico and Panama in addition to experts from Colombia and INTERPOL’s General Secretariat headquarters in Lyon, France.

Key items on the agenda included ensuring participants were updated on INTERPOL’s internationally recognized procedures for DVI, with discussion on case studies from the 2010 Haiti earthquake, 2009 Air France crash off the coast of Brazil and the 2004 Asian tsunami, and establishing fingerprinting capabilities and exchange across the region.

Delegates were also presented with the results of the DNA survey for Central and South America and participated in a workshop to develop ideas on enhanced use of DNA profiling in investigations and increased DNA profile exchange in the region via INTERPOL’s DNA Gateway.

The meeting also saw the formal signing of an agreement by the Director General of Guatemala Police, Jaime Leonel Otzin allowing the submission of fingerprint data via the new AFIS system (Automated Fingerprint Identification System) to INTERPOL for international comparison.

The conference, organized with the support of INTERPOL’s Regional Bureau in San Salvador which is co-ordinating INTERPOL’s ongoing regional strategy for combating transnational organized crime involving all regional heads of Police, was officially opened by Guatemala’s Vice Minister of the Interior, Sergio Mendizábal and funded by the Anti-Crime Capacity Building Programme of the Canadian Government.