The Challenge of Human Rights
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The Challenge of Human Rights

Past, Present and Future

Edited by David Keane and Yvonne McDermott

The Challenge of Human Rights takes a detailed and exploratory approach to topics across the field of human rights, and seeks to map a path for future research and policy development.
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Chapter 6: Forensic Science, International Criminal Law and the Duties toward Persons Killed in War

Éadaoin O’Brien


6. Forensic science, international criminal law and the duties towards persons killed in war Éadaoin O’Brien* In recent decades, the forensic exhumation of mass graves and other deposition sites containing the bodies of victims of war crimes, and the subsequent forensic analysis of the remains retrieved from such graves have been a notable feature of international criminal tribunals. For example, the ad hoc tribunals established in the 1990s, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (‘ICTY’), which was established by Resolution 827 of the Security Council on 25 May 1993,1 and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (‘ICTR’), established in November 1994 pursuant to United Nations Security Council Resolution 9552 incorporated forensic techniques into their investigatory and prosecutorial strategy. The use of forensic methodologies, including the forensic exhumation of mass graves, is only one element of the international criminal investigation process but it is a very valuable one. Enquiries into violations of international criminal law rely on the forensic sciences ‘for critical evidence that establishes the nature and pattern of crimes committed’3 as well as for providing methods for human identification.4 Forensic analysis pertaining to death investigations concentrates on specific crimes falling with the broader categories under the jurisdiction of the tribunals. For example, in the context of war crimes the forensic examination will pertain * The research on which this chapter is based has been supported by a postgraduate scholarship awarded by the Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences. 1 UN Doc S/RES/827 (1993). 2...

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