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Abstract

This article explores the dynamics and challenges of undertaking human identifications in states experiencing armed conflict or emerging therefrom. It emphasises the integral role of the State in human identifications and the need for the legal acts of the State in identifying an individual and confirming their death to be integrated into any humanitarian response to repatriating the dead. Conflict-related mass fatalities occur in uncontrolled circumstances, making DNA-based human identifications necessary. In states lacking the necessary forensic infrastructure, the promise of expedited human identifications through outsourcing DNA work can lead to the State abdicating the necessary jurisdiction and scientific transparency over DNA samples and their analysis. This raises important issues of consent, privacy and human rights. Furthermore, attempts to minimise initial delays in human identifications at the expense of building local knowledge, skills and necessary legal frameworks risks undermining the legitimacy of the human identification effort. Through analysis of the cases of Guatemala, the former Yugoslavia, and Libya, the authors conclude that human identification efforts cannot be separated from the need for a long-term integrated solution within a transitional justice context in which accountability and the right to the truth are addressed as part of a political solution.

DOI

http://doi.org/10.5038/1911-9933.11.1.1452

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License