As the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) wraps up its dockets in Arusha, Tanzania on December 14 and hands over cases to other processes, we reflect on landmark “firsts” accomplished by the tribunal: the first international prosecution for the crime of genocide, and the first conviction for rape and sexual violence as forms of genocide.
Clyde Collins Snow, a pioneering forensic scientist who developed the field of investigation of individual and mass graves to gather evidence of human rights violations, died on May 16, 2014 at the age of 86. He mentored dozens of forensic scientists and consulted with Physicians for Human Rights on critical projects including exhumation of graves in Iraqi Kurdistan and in the former Yugoslavia.
Earlier this month, PHR reported on the issue of “false positives”; civilians who were kidnapped and executed by Colombian military forces with the intent of identifying them as either members of the FARC guerrilla movement or other illegal armed groups. Specifically, we focused on the case of Mr. Fair Bernal Leonardo Porras, a 26-year old builder who was forcibly disappeared from a rural town in northern Colombia. Since that time, the judicial process has continued to move forward.
In 2008, the Colombian government acknowledged the extrajudicial executions of 11 young men from a working class municipality near Bogota. These victims are among those known as “false positives”; civilians who were kidnapped by Colombian military forces with the intent of identifying them as either members of the FARC guerrilla movement or other illegal armed groups. This practice allows the military to inflate the number of enemies they’ve killed.
With the backing of PHR, the Afghanistan Forensic Science Organization (AFSO) was officially launched in Kabul on March 7, 2012. The AFSO was created by eighteen participants of PHR’s 2010 forensic training program in Afghanistan, and funded through PHR’s International Forensic Program.