Centre for International Forensic Assistance is launched

Issued: Tue, 03 Jul 2001 00:00:00 BST

The Centre for International Forensic Assistance (CIFA) at the University of Glasgow will be formally launched on Tuesday 3 July at 4.00 p.m. in the University's Western Lecture theatre.

CIFA is committed to serving the interests of justice and the humanitarian needs of communities throughout the world by the application of forensic science and will undertake programmes of investigation, education, development, research and collaboration.

In particular the centre will provide forensic science expertise to assist in the investigation of war crime atrocities, mass disasters, and individual cases of a political nature or involving human rights abuse.

In the event of a mass disaster or a war grave discovery, a client such as the UN would ask CIFA to custom-build a team to meet their needs and to enable them to react swiftly. CIFA provide the party seeking assistance with a "blueprint" on how to tackle the particular disaster.

This blueprint will provide information on the range of skills and staff required to work on the ground, the equipment they will need and details of how to contact the proposed team members. Details of their expertise, previous experience and specialist areas of knowledge will also be provided.

The personnel associated with CIFA will join voluntarily. The International Community will accept inclusion on CIFA's database as proof of the individual's professional competence

CIFA will also perform an educational role in diffusing knowledge through conferences, seminars and training programmes and carry out research across all areas of forensic science and related disciplines.

It is also planned to assist the development of forensic capabilities in other countries and to collaborate with other disciplines such as the social sciences and mental health.

The Director of CIFA is Professor Peter Vanezis, Regius Professor of Forensic Medicine and Science. He says: "Our aim is to provide a rapid repsonse to requests for forensic expertise, bringing together custom-built teams of known quality and expertise, to meet the particular needs of each situation."

The personnel associated with CIFA comprise forensic pathologists, DNA experts, toxicologists, forensic odontologists, forensic anthropologists and archaeologists, international law specialists, psychiatrists and related disciplines.

CIFA has received start-up funding from the UN and the UK Foreign Office. Funding of each investigation will be provided by the organisation commissioning it. Contractual obligations related to the provision of the team's professional services will be either directly between the requesting party and the professionals(s) on an individual basis, or between the requesting party and the professional's employer. There will be no direct contractual relationship between CIFA and the requesting party for the services of these professionals.

CIFA will be managed by a Secretariet Group including Professor Vanezis as Director and Dr Orlando Trujillo as Project Manager. An international advisory panel representing the different disciplines involved will provide and expertise as appropriate.

Further information for the media is available at http://www.newsdesk.gla.ac.uk/pressreleases

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You are invited to be represented at the launch event at 4.00 p.m. Tuesday 3 July in the Western Lecture Theatre, University of Glasgow.

A location map will be faxed on request. For further information contact University Pres Office on 0141 330 3535

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