Scientific Development Program
The objective of the EAAF's Scientific Development Program is to improve the quality and effectiveness of existing scientific tools and develop new instruments for the application of forensic anthropology and other relevant sciences to the investigation of violations of human rights and humanitarian law wordwide.
Although genetic laboratories in Argentina, the United States, Great Britain and Uruguay have generously collaborated with the EAAF, access to genetic testing is still extremely costly and severely limited. At the moment, we depend on the services kindly donated by the Department of Biology at the University of Durham, UK but this laboratory can accommodate only a limited number of cases. In the short-term, the EAAF requires genetic testing to resolve approximately twenty to thirty urgent cases per year.
This year, with support from Diakonisches Werk, Germany, EAAF will process 450 blood samples and 50 bone samples through a project between Dr. Michelle Harvey from the University of Toronto, and The Applied Genome Center from the Hospital for the Sick Children from Toronto. During its first year, the project will focus on processing both blood samples from relatives of the victims and bone samples from non identified skeletons, and will include the training of an Argentinean genetic expert in Canada on the recovery of mitochondrial-DNA.
The EAAF presently holds the most complete database and archive of disappeared people in Argentina. Initially created in 1990 on the basis of the cases documented in the report of the National Commission on Disappeared Persons, this database has been progressively improved and expanded to include all relevant data on these cases. The database includes information gathered through interviews and testimonies of relatives, survivors and sometimes perpetrators, press clippings, security archives, the national registry and cemetery records, among others.
Databases: Forensic Database for Documentation of Violations Worldwide
Based on the structure of our database for Argentina, the EAAF has developed similar programs to process information on cases in other countries where we conduct investigations, with basic variations according to the context. This experience has led to requests to the EAAF to design databases to record forensic findings in other contexts. The EAAF initiated a process of designing a database for recording and comparing forensic anthropological data obtained in the EAAF's cases and applicable to forensic investigations generally.
This information system will facilitate and accelerate the process of identifying skeletal remains, comparing data, producing statistics and identifying patterns of violence within cases and across regions. The database, which is tailored to the needs of human rights investigations and can be easily adaptable to the particular requirements of each case and country, will be made available in Spanish and English. In addition to being a useful tool for our own investigations, the application will also be published and distributed within academic circles, regional forensic bodies and human rights organizations. Part of the forensic database is already being used by EAAF members on its missions