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Forensic experts begin examining mass graves in Sierra Leone, UN reports

Forensic experts begin examining mass graves in Sierra Leone, UN reports

Forensics experts from Argentina have begun a preliminary investigation of mass graves of people killed during the 10-year civil conflict in Sierra Leone, the United Nations Mission in the country (UNAMSIL) announced today.

UNAMSIL is facilitating the work of the Argentinian Forensic Anthropology Team (EAAF), a non-governmental organization (NGO) dedicated to applying forensic anthropology to the investigation of human rights violations. The team’s work is also being funded by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

As part of their work, experts will map the sites of mass graves, assess the amount of the forensic expertise needed for further investigations, and give advice on preserving evidence. The team will also advise the Government and the human rights community on the application of forensic anthropology to the Sierra Leone context.

The three-member team, which arrived on 17 June, is expected to complete its work within four weeks, according to UNAMSIL. Its report will propose guidelines for carrying out future investigations in support of the activities of the Special Court for Sierra Leone and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, both of which are charged with matters related to human rights.

At a briefing held yesterday at UNAMSIL Headquarters in Freetown, the Chief of the Human Rights Section, Rodolfo Mattarollo, said the team would spend the first week holding consultations with government officials as well as representatives from the UN and NGOs. The following two weeks will be devoted to fieldwork, while a workshop will be organized during the team’s fourth and final week in Sierra Leone.