Press Release: UNODC supports the Iraqi Ministry of Interior’s forensic services to identify illicit drugs

Baghdad, Iraq - 8 December 2022 - The increase of transnational drug trafficking is posing a significant task for law enforcement services, within the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, including in Iraq. The Government of Iraq considers combatting drug trafficking as a priority. Tackling drug trafficking brings to the forefront the invaluable role of forensic services within law enforcement. Forensic services are facing an increasingly difficult task of responding to the threat of drug trafficking, due to the challenges of identifying the drugs seized and having skilled forensic specialists to do so as well as the large number of samples seized.
In response to the needs of the Iraqi forensic services, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) is delivering a 5-day workshop, within the facilities of the Criminal Evidence Investigation Directorate (CID), Ministry of Interior, in Baghdad between the 5th and 10th of December 2022. The event is part of UNODC’s project on “Strengthening the Capacities of Iraqi Law Enforcement and Criminal Investigation Services (2019-2023),” funded by the U.S. Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL).
During the opening of the training, Major General Firas Thamer Alallam, head of the CID, highlighted the role played by Iraqi forensic experts in supporting law enforcement services through their work to help tackle the challenges of drug identification.
The workshop targeted specialized technical forensic experts from within the Ministry of Interior and was provided by international expertise on the Gas Chromatography–Mass Spectrometry (GC-MS) techniques, an efficient method of choice in routine laboratory drug identification. Participants will be exposed to the fundamentals of operation and maintenance of the GC-MS equipment and interpretation of results, through theoretical and practical work. The training will ensure the development of sustainable and efficient forensic expertise within the Iraqi law-enforcement services. Such effective forensic bodies achieve better results and hence help restore confidence in law enforcement institutions while ensuring full respect for human rights and the rule of law.
Mr. Ali Elbereir, Senior Programme Coordinator and Head of the UNODC Iraq Office, expressed that “Forensic services provide the main method for acquiring evidence to be used in court within the criminal justice process, ultimately leading to bringing justice to the victims and holding criminal networks and individuals accountable for their crimes. For this reason, supporting Iraqi forensic teams to carry out the responsibilities under their command has been one of the priorities at UNODC.”
The efficient use of GC-MS systems in law enforcement forensic laboratories enables a sustainable process to identify drugs and extends to the disciplines of explosives investigations, fire investigations, and counterfeit-drug detection. GC-MS techniques are utilized by the forensic services of the Ministry of Interior in Iraq, thereby provision of training for the GC-MS devices operation and maintenance is of critical importance. 
For more information, please contact:
Ms. Nermine Abdelhamid
UNODC ROMENA Communications and Visibility Officer