Forensic science plays key role in fight against torture

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Juan E Mendez. UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré

Physical evidence collected and examined at a crime scene can help address impunity for acts of torture.

That's according to the UN Special Envoy on Torture, Juan E Mendez.

Forensic medical science, as it is called, is a powerful tool available to survivors to corroborate allegations of torture and ill-treatment.

It can also help States bolster their efforts to investigate, prosecute and punish perpetrators of the crime as required by international law.

Mr Mendez is presenting his latest report on Wednesday.

"For forensic sciences and particularly medical forensics, it is to achieve the obligations of the State that are crucial to the abolition of torture. One of them is to investigate, prosecute and punish every act of torture and of cruel and inhuman degrading treatment. And by and large this is not done because there is not good evidence because there is no effort to detect torture when the science of it is readily available."

Forensics could also help States comply with reparations, he added, because it could establish the level of pain and suffering inflicted by torture.

The UN envoy also insisted on the independence and high standards of forensics doctors as a main criterion for providing services.

Jocelyne Sambira, United Nations.

Duration: 1’27”

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