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Best practice forensic techniques introduced to Viet Nam to combat wildlife crime

Ho Chi Minh City (Viet Nam), 26 August 2015 - In cooperation with the Ministry of Public Security of Viet Nam, the UNODC Global Programme on Combating Wildlife and Forest Crime has completed its first training course on 'Evidence preservation for forensic analysis in wildlife crime cases'. Participants at the course included officers from various departments of the Police and Customs in Ho Chi Minh City and from other locations along the border with Cambodia.

Besides the lectures from national speakers, which included a prosecutor and a wildlife forensic analyst, participants learned international best practices for the analysis of a crime scene with a view to ensure adequate collection, filing, storage, preservation and transportation of important evidence from live and dead wildlife.

Specialized forensic techniques are important to help prove beyond reasonable doubt that an offense was or was not committed, to identify illegal products and offenders, and to link evidence with a suspect. Forensic analysis can also help to identify poaching hotspots and trafficking routes, determine geographic origin and age of the wildlife products, and when analyzed with other intelligence and data, may also offer clues to assist law enforcement in preventing future crimes.

"One of the obstacles to the development of proper forensic analysis in wildlife crime cases is the poor quality of evidence handed over to the wildlife forensic laboratories," explained Mr. Doug Goessman, one of the international UNODC trainers.

During the course, trainees practiced their skills in evidence collection inside kitchens, storage rooms and vehicles, to increase the similarity to real wildlife crime scenes as much as possible. Trainees were also provided with basic equipment to collect and store evidence.

"A thorough analysis of the crime scene is crucial for the success of the subsequent investigation, and this is why high professional standards must also be observed in wildlife crime scenes," Mr. Goessman continued. "This course has helped raise the bar for proper and professional collection of evidence."

The forensic training course will be conducted three more times over the following weeks in other locations of Viet Nam and Lao PDR. These courses are generously supported by the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs of the US Department of State.