Workshop to Enhance the Utilization of Forensic Evidence in Terrorism Trials

15 September 2023, Lahore – The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Country Office Pakistan, as part of its Country Programme-III (2022-2025) and Sub-Programme-IV “Preventing and Countering Terrorism,” organized the Workshop on Presenting Forensic Evidence during Terrorism Trials for Prosecutors. This collaborative effort, held from September 12-14, 2023, at Punjab Forensic Science Agency (PFSA) Lahore, was undertaken in partnership with the National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA) with financial support from Global Affairs Canada (GAC).

The workshop was attended by 19 prosecutors from Anti-terrorism Courts of Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan. Over the course of the event, participants received hands-on training on use of forensic evidence during investigation and its presentation during trial of terrorism cases.

The workshop commenced with opening remarks from UNODC and the Additional Director General of PFSA, establishing a collaborative tone for the proceedings. After a comprehensive introduction to PFSA, attendees were given the opportunity to embark on a facility tour, providing them with a firsthand view of the cutting-edge forensic infrastructure. The day's agenda delved into the critical role and profound impact of forensic evidence in Pakistan's criminal justice system. The participants were then engaged in an interactive session covering the collection, identification, and preservation of digital evidence, culminating in a thorough discussion on reporting formats.

Day two started with a visit to a mock crime scene at PFSA, highlighting the importance of first response and effective crime scene management in terrorism-related incidents during investigations. The day featured hands-on sessions focused on firearms, toolmarks and latent fingerprints, emphasizing the meticulous processes of evidence collection, identification and preservation. Each session was meticulously crafted to enhance participants' practical skills, ensuring a comprehensive grasp of the essential reporting formats crucial for accurate documentation.

The last day unfolded with an in-depth exploration of narcotics, trace evidence, and toxicology collection, identification and preservation. A session on polygraph examination, its admissibility and the PFSA Act further broadened the participants' understanding of forensic practices. During the closing ceremony, PFSA expressed their appreciation for the efforts of NACTA, UNODC, and the Government of Canada for organizing this training which brought together prosecutors from across Pakistan to share knowledge and experiences under one roof.

This workshop significantly contributes to the broader objective of presenting circumstantial evidence in terrorism cases through the effective utilization of forensic expertise.