Last Updated: Thursday, 31 July 2014, 17:47 GMT

Human rights and forensic science.

Publisher UN Commission on Human Rights
Author UN Commission on Human Rights (52nd sess. : 1996 : Geneva)
Publication Date 19 April 1996
Citation / Document Symbol E/CN.4/RES/1996/31
Reference 52
Cite as UN Commission on Human Rights, Human rights and forensic science., 19 April 1996, E/CN.4/RES/1996/31, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3b00f0bc3e.html [accessed 2 August 2014]

Human rights and forensic science

Commission on Human Rights resolution 1996/31

The Commission on Human Rights,

Recalling its resolutions 1993/33 of 5 March 1993 and 1994/31 of 4 March 1994, Welcoming the report of the Secretary-General on human rights and forensic science (E/CN.4/1996/41), submitted pursuant to its resolution 1994/31,

Welcoming also the provisional list of organizations and individual experts in forensic science compiled by the Secretary-General in his report and also the organizations mentioned in his previous reports (E/CN.4/1993/20 and E/CN.4/1994/24),

Expressing its gratitude to the Governments and organizations that recommended names of organizations and experts for the list,

Conscious that other organizations and individual experts in forensic science should be added to the provisional list,

Welcoming the contacts maintained by the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances with certain organizations and individuals in the field of forensic science and human rights and the elaboration by the Working Group of a preliminary scheme for establishing a standing team of forensic experts,

Noting that the need of Governments, intergovernmental organizations and non-governmental organizations for forensic scientific expertise in investigating deaths and clarifying disappearances has been emphasized in the reports of the Working Group and of the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, as well as those of various country rapporteurs,

Noting also that forensic science can help to reunite children of disappeared persons forcibly separated from their parents with their surviving relatives,

Noting further that forensic medicine is an important tool in detecting evidence of torture,

Noting that, in many of the countries concerned, sufficient expertise is not available in forensic science and related fields to investigate human rights violations effectively,

Recognizing that training of local teams in responsible exhumation and identification procedures is a prerequisite for the effective investigation of human rights violations,

Aware that a number of Governments have requested the Secretary-General to provide technical assistance in this regard,

Also aware of the experience of United Nations fact-finding investigations supporting the need for a list of experts in forensic science,

Further aware that several special rapporteurs have welcomed efforts towards the institution of a standing team of forensic experts to assist them in carrying out their human rights mandates,

Recalling the Principles on the Effective Prevention and Investigation of Extralegal, Arbitrary and Summary Executions, adopted by the Economic and Social Council in its resolution 1989/65 of 24 May 1989,

Considering the proposed model autopsy protocol prepared under United Nations auspices contained in the Manual on the Effective Prevention and Investigation of Extralegal, Arbitrary and Summary Executions (United Nations publication, Sales No. E.91.IV.1),

Considering also the guidelines for the conduct of United Nations inquiries into allegations of massacres,

1. Invites States to take measures to introduce into their rules and practices the international standards set forth in the Principles on the Effective Prevention and Investigation of Extralegal, Arbitrary and Summary Executions, as well as the model autopsy protocol set forth in the Manual on the Effective Prevention and Investigation of Extralegal, Arbitrary and Summary Executions;

2. Requests the Secretary-General again to consult with Governments, relevant United Nations bodies, professional organizations of forensic experts, the organizations mentioned in his reports of 1993, 1994 and 1996, as well as other interested institutions, with a view to:

(a) Identifying individual experts who might be asked to join forensic teams or to provide advice or assistance to thematic or country mechanisms, advisory services and technical assistance programmes;

(b) Submitting biographical data on the experts, including professional qualifications, current employment, contact address, gender (the nomination of female experts is encouraged) and the kinds of assistance they could provide;

(c) Seeking their further advice as to the elaboration of principles, guidance, procedures, mechanisms, practical experience and training, in addition to the Manual on the Effective Prevention and Investigation of Extralegal, Arbitrary and Summary Executions;

3. Also requests the Secretary-General to continue efforts to establish, on the basis of these consultations and on the basis of continuing efforts on the part of the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances to render active assistance, a list of forensic experts and experts in related fields who could be requested to help international mechanisms in the field of human rights, Governments and the Centre for Human Rights in providing technical and advisory services, advice in regard to the monitoring of human rights violations and training of local teams and/or assistance in the reunification of families of persons who have disappeared;

4. Further requests the Secretary-General annually to update this list and to make it available to the working groups, special rapporteurs and experts of the United Nations human rights mechanisms so that they may request these forensic experts to assist them in evaluating documents and other evidence and to accompany them on country visits;

5. Requests the Secretary-General to ensure that the forensic experts abide by the Principles on the Effective Prevention and Investigation of Extralegal, Arbitrary and Summary Executions adopted by the Economic and Social Council in its resolution 1989/65 of 24 May 1989;

6. Also requests the Secretary-General to provide appropriate resources, from within existing overall United Nations resources, to fund the activities of the Centre for Human Rights in implementing the present resolution;

7. Further requests the Secretary-General to report to the Commission at its fifty-fourth session on progress made in this matter, including:

(a) The availability of a comprehensive and up-to-date list of experts containing biographical data and indications of availability;

(b) A revised standard arrangement or cooperation service agreement regulating the use of forensic experts, including provisions for the protection of forensic experts who so serve; as well as to make such recommendations as he may consider appropriate;

8. Invites the Centre for Human Rights and the Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Division of the Secretariat to consider the possibility of revising the Manual on the Effective Prevention and Investigation of Extralegal, Arbitrary and Summary Executions in the light of practical experience with the Manual and the comments received;

9. Decides to consider the question at its fifty-fourth session under the item entitled "Question of the human rights of all persons subjected to any form of detention or imprisonment";

10. Also decides to recommend to the Economic and Social Council the following draft decision for adoption:

The Economic and Social Council, taking note of Commission on Human Rights resolution 1996/31 of 19 April 1996, approves the Commission's request to the Secretary-General:

(a) To maintain and update the list of forensic experts and experts in related fields who could be requested to help international mechanisms in the field of human rights, Governments and the Centre for Human Rights in providing technical and advisory services, advice in regard to the monitoring of human rights violations and training of local teams and/or assitance in the reunification of families of the disappeared; and

(b) To provide appropriate resources, from within existing overall United Nations resources, to fund the activities of the Centre for Human Rights in implementing Commission resolution 1996/31 .

51st meeting, 19 April 1996

[Adopted without a vote]

Search Refworld