Training on Use of Forensic Evidence in Terrorism Trials

1 May 2019, Islamabad - The UNODC conducted a training on 'The Use of Forensic Evidence in Terrorism Trials' in Lahore from 22 to 26 April 2019, with the aim of building the prosecutorial and investigative capacities of personnel from the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Prosecution Department (KPPD) dealing with the prosecution of anti-terrorism cases, and of investigation officers from the Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) in KP, in relation to the identification, collection, preservation, and utilization of forensic evidence to secure convictions in terrorism trials. This training was implemented under an agreement with the Government of Pakistan in 2017 to provide technical assistance in the area of counter-terrorism through its PACT (Pakistan's Action to Counter Terrorism) project funded by the European Union (EU).

For effective implementation of this project, the UNODC Pakistan in collaboration with RSIL (Research Society of International Law) has developed a training module on ' Using Forensic Evidence in Terrorism Trials', which serves as the base curriculum of the training session. The first three days of the training included lectures, plenary discussions, syndicate sessions, activities, and interactive learning sessions on the concepts of forensic evidence; whereas the final two days of the course included lectures, crime scene simulations, and interactive discussions.

The first day of training commenced with a series of explanatory lectures, the first delivered by Mr. Oves Anwar, Director Conflict Law Centre, RSIL. Mr. Anwar gave the participants an introduction to forensic evidence and its relevance in criminal proceedings. The second lecture, given by Barrister Salman Safdar, among the top criminal lawyers in Pakistan, covered in detail the legal framework for forensics in Pakistan.

The second day started with a question and answer session between the participants and a staff member from PFSA (Punjab Forensic Science Agency). The objective of this session was to discuss how coordination mechanisms could be streamlined between personnel from the participating agencies and the PFSA. The first two lectures were delivered by Dr. Saadat Ali, a highly trained and renowned forensic scientist, on the key topics of crime scene analysis, evidence collection and preservation, and types of forensic analysis. The final lecture of the day was given by Ms. Minahil Khan, Senior Research Fellow, RSIL. Ms. Khan's lecture was an interactive session during which she utilized case law to illustrate procedural challenges faced by prosecutors in relying on forensic evidence during anti-terrorism proceedings.

Day three of the training included lectures by highly qualified lawyers including Barrister Umar Mahmood Khan on ' Police-Prosecutor Cooperation' and Ms. Ayesha Alam Malik, Research

Associate, RSIL on ' International Approaches on the Admissibility of Forensic Evidence'. A session on counter-terrorism financing (CTF) was also held by Mr. Jamal Aziz, Executive Director RSIL and Mr. Oves Anwar (Director RSIL). The training session concluded with an interactive discussion between the prosecutors and investigators, moderated by Mr. Akhtar Ali Shah, Former Home Secretary and IG, KP. Its purpose was to conduct a policy dialogue on challenges in the use of forensic evidence in anti-terrorism trials.

The final two days of the training were held at PFSA, where the participants were given lectures by the PFSA's leading crime scene analysts and forensic experts. PFSA also held three crime scene simulations: wherein the participants were walked through staged crime scenes, and educated on the manner and procedure in which crime scenes are analyzed and photographed, and forensic evidence collected.

As overall feedback, the participants pronounced the training extremely useful as it served to enhance their appreciation of the significance of forensic evidence; and polished their professional skills in the identification, collection, and preservation of evidence. The course concluded with a closing statement by Mr. Ahmer Bilal Soofi, President RSIL, following which certificates were distributed to all those trained.