The publication can be downloaded for free as a PDF. It was published jointly by the Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team (EAAF) and the Center for Women’s Human Rights (CEDEHM). It includes sections on new remote sensing technologies applied to the location of clandestine graves, on data visualization, and on probabilistic methods to search for missing or disappeared persons. It also includes articles by more than 20 professionals from Mexico, the United States, South Africa, Australia and Argentina specialized in geology, geophysics, architecture, archaeology, mathematics, law and communications. Furthermore, it deals with the role of family collectives searching for their loved ones and the use of evidence in judicial proceedings. The book Nuevas Tecnologías en Búsqueda Forense: Recursos para la crisis de desapariciones en México [New Technologies in Forensic Search: Resources for the Disapearance Crisis in Mexico], coedited by the Argentine Team of Forensic Anthropology (EAAF) and the Center for Women’s Human Rights (CEDEHM), was presented during a virtual event.
The publication seeks to provide an introduction to the use of new forensic search tools and technologies. “This book is dedicated to all those who search,” said Mercedes Doretti, EAAF’s director for Central and North America, during the presentation, which was broadcast live on Facebook and will be accessible from next week on YouTube channel @EAAFoficial. “Why this book? Why Mexico? Why right now? In the first place, because of the human rights crisis that Mexico is going through, with more than 82 thousand missing or disappeared persons (95% of them in the last 15 years). Because of a crisis in the forensic services to respond to this situation, recognized by the national government and the different state governments and, at the same time, because of the enactment of the General Law on Enforced Disappearance of Persons, Disappearance Committed by Non-State Actors and the National System of Search for Persons in 2017. For all this, there is an enormous need, as there is an opportunity, to strengthen forensic services and the search for missing persons, giving an answer to thousands of families who are still waiting today,” said Doretti.
Based on the sharing of forensic search experiences in Mexico and in other countries, as well as of scientific investigations, reflections, ideas and positions regarding the technologies available, the book presents the challenges ahead in incorporating them in the Mexican context. Some of the technologies addressed in the book are in the area of remote sensing, including satellite imagery, LiDAR, georadar, resistivity, multi-spectrometry, and hyper-spectrometry. The book also deals with the use of information that can be obtained from cell phones and social networks to search for people, as well as new and various advanced forms of data analysis to examine patterns of violence and disappearances. It includes examples of interactive digital platforms created from information obtained through remote sensing, communications or other sources, and their use as tools both in the investigation and in the communication of specific cases. During the presentation, the general prosecutor of the state of Chihuahua, César Augusto Peniche, stressed: “The challenge involves articulating the institutions and organizations that are devoted to the search. The big problem in our country is the lack of coordination of efforts, since this gap does not favor the work of searching for people. We have a lot to work on in this field, building bridges and, particularly, regaining trust in and between the institutions so that the efforts do not go in opposite directions and we can effectively make headway with this task. On the one hand, the states have to invest in technology to make search engines more efficient; but we also have to be able to set up a global database that currently does not exist.”
The published book seeks to become a tool for relatives of disappeared or missing persons, human rights organizations, human rights advocates, officials, institutions and various stakeholders who are currently involved in forensic searches. In the Mexican context, the purpose of the publication is to contribute technically to the implementation of the General Law on Enforced Disappearance of Persons, Disappearance Committed by Non-State Actors and the National System of Search for Persons, adopted in November 2017. Leticia Hidalgo, a member of United Forces for Our Disappeared in Nuevo León (FUNDENL, in Spanish) was interviewed in relation to the book and explained in the presentation: “The disappearance of our children, brothers/sisters and grandchildren were somewhat alike. We noticed that the people and patterns involved had something in common, as well as the methods that were used. This is how we drew time lines and began to form a network of links.” Hidalgo thanked the joint work with EAAF. “These new search technologies are at the forefront of what is needed.” And she concluded by saying that “for years we have fought for the search for disappeared persons to be interdisciplinary, interinstitutional, with the participation of families and their independent experts.” In turn, Ruth Fierro, from the Center for Women’s Human Rights, said: “The issue of disappearances is a humanitarian crisis in Mexico that has demanded a great deal of time at high costs for families to be recognized and for the state to be ready to respond adequately, especially in the area of search. We already have the law that establishes the National Search System, and even with these commissions we see that there are still no planned and strategic searches: they still depend on the collaboration of a person or on fortuitous findings. Families and their collectives have been incorporating a more planned methodology with technology systems such as those discussed here.”
The book is an expanded result of the First International Meeting on New Forensic Search Technologies, held from July 1 to 4, 2019, at the Memory and Tolerance Museum in Mexico City. There, more than 25 lecturers explained the use of new technologies in the forensic search for missing or disappeared persons, especially for locating clandestine graves and for exploring their possible applications to the Mexican context. The production of a written version that includes knowledge and experiences is vitally important so that its content can reach a wider audience. The book gathers various actors of the Mexican of human rights and forensic search context along with more than 20 professionals from Mexico, the United States, Canada, South Africa, Australia and Argentina specialized in geology, geophysics, architecture, archeology, mathematics, law and communications. It represents an effort by EAAF to share multidisciplinary forensic search experiences in complex situations in various parts of the world. Several of the authors of the articles included in the publication also participated in the presentation: Alberto Giordano, Texas State University; Amy Mundorff, University of Tennessee, Knoxville; Daniel Del Cogliano, National University of La Plata; Marcela Turati, Quinto Elemento Lab; Jannette Helen O’Relling Carranza, Colectivo Solecito; Alejandra Guillén, researcher; Brad Samuels, SITU Research; Denise González Núñez, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and former researcher at the Ibero-American University of Mexico City; Inés Caridi, Argentina’s National Scientific and Technical Research Council; Jorge Ruiz Reyes, Human Rights Program of the Ibero-American University of Mexico City; Eberth Castañon Torres, General Prosecutor’s Office of the State of Chihuahua; Monica Meltis, Data Cívica; Rodolfo G. Pregliasco, Forensic Physics Group of the Balseiro Institute in Bariloche; and Santiago Perdomo, Center of Research and Transference of Northwestern Buenos Aires Province.
The 2019 First International Meeting on New Forensic Search Technologies and this publication were made possible thanks to the generous support of the people of the United States through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents are the responsibility of the Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team and the authors, and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government. DOWNLOAD THE BOOK IN PDF
Equipo Argentino de Antropología Forense (EAAF).
ONG científica. Búsqueda, recuperación, identificación y restitución de personas desaparecidas.