Iraq Assessment Mission 2003-2004
In response to the humanitarian need and to protect evidence, forensic scientists began work in Iraq while hostilities were still continuing. With two days preparation inforce personnel flew to Baghdad in May 2003. The team, led by Professor Margaret Cox, included 8 forensic scientists covering archaeology, anthropology, crime scene investigation, geophysics, surveying, and photography.
Over a six week period, inforce worked at over 15 suspected mass grave sites, including Hilla and Musayib, south-west of Baghdad, in order to assess the situation and advise the local community leaders. The team was always received warmly and had many requests for assistance. Given the scale of their loss, the team admired the communities’ will and their effectiveness in responding to a long awaited opportunity to recover the remains of their loved ones. The inforce team was impressed by what they have seen of the way in which local communities had taken control recovering their dead and creating memorials.
However, in order to recover all available evidence communities need advice, assistance and training. inforce can help with this process. Without skilled assistance much evidence is, unfortunately, not recovered. At one site the inforce team spent two hours in a grave that the locals had dug and revealed the remains of six more individuals. With assistance and training more human remains will be recovered and identified and many more families can be reunited with their dead.
As well as this important humanitarian work we supported the authorities in providing informed forensic input into the development of policy recommendations designed to provide a structured international response to the mass graves legacy. This advice covers the recovery of evidence of the highest standard to be used in courts and developing an Iraqi owned and led capacity to take control of the mass graves that the new Iraq inherits.
As a direct result of this mission, a second inforce team was send out to Iraq and inforce conducted three training programmes for Iraqi scientists, scene of crime officers and criminal investigators. inforce is still advising the Iraqi government on forensic issues.
Iraq Training Programme 2004 – 2005
As a result of the inforce Assessment Missions in Iraq 2003-4, the British Foreign & Commonwealth Office agreed to fund the training of an Iraqi team, consisting of archaeologists, anthropologists, pathologists, radiographers, scene of crime officers and project managers to be trained in the UK.
After selecting 35 candidates, inforce implemented a six month course, individually tailored around the different professions involved.
Iraq Special Tribunal Training Programme 2005
In the summer of 2005 and partly based on the successful delivery of the Iraq Training Programme 2004-2005, inforce was requested to deliver another capacity building project. During a 14-day intense seminar programme in Bournemouth, UK, 39 criminal investigators were trained in many aspects of the investigation of atrocity crimes. The project was jointly delivered by DIILS (Defense Institute of International Legal Studies, Boston, USA) covering the legal and investigative aspects, and the inforce Foundation was responsible for teaching forensic sciences and on-site investigations of mass graves as well as humanitarian issues such as victim identification.
Iraq Trainer of Trainers Programme 2005
This component of the programme spanned 3 months and had three main elements:
▪ Education in teaching skills
▪ Skill intensification
▪ Professional placements
During a four week period, the students were taught about the science and art of teaching. From devising seminars, lectures and discussion forums to the creation and assessment of learning activities. In addition, in order fulfil their intended teaching role, it was necessary for each student to undertake essential continuing professional development in their respective fields. To do so, the students attended a range of arranged seminars, and skills developing activities.
To ensure that both forensic and teaching skills were individually embedded through practical application, the participants were provided with placements with professional bodies aligned to their respective fields. These programmes took place by arrangement with organisations in South Africa, Bosnia and the UK.
The training of trainers programme has been judged to be a huge success and further, allied training in Iraq has been devised. Delivery of this stage of the programme is currently being negotiated.