UN expert to help raise forensic probe skills in PH
MANILA, Philippines — United Nations special rapporteur Dr. Morris Tidball-Binz’s visit to Manila this week is expected to boost the country’s forensic investigation capacity, according to Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla.
Tidball-Binz, UN special rapporteur for extrajudicial, summary, or arbitrary executions, is arriving in Manila on Monday and will be meeting Remulla on Tuesday at the Department of Justice (DOJ).
Remulla, in a statement, said that Tidball-Binz’s visit “will pave the way for forensic pathologists and enhance their practice to achieve international standard practices and help us identify the intricacies of wrongful death tragedies.”
He, however, stressed that Tidball-Binz will visit not as a special rapporteur but as an expert in the field of forensic pathology “to help capacitate our current doctors.”
“We need more capable doctors in our country to assist our law enforcement agencies in their work. This is an enormous step toward that goal,” Remulla said.
There are only two licensed and internationally recognized forensic pathologists in the country—Doctors Raquel Fortun and Cecilia Lim.
Fortun earlier expressed concern over the autopsy conducted on the body of Kian delos Santos, who was among the casualties during the Duterte administration’s bloody drug campaign.
A third autopsy on the exhumed remains of the 17-year-old boy led Fortun to the discovery of the intact bullet lodged in his neck region, sparking fresh questions about the reliability of other postmortem examinations by the Philippine National Police on thousands of people killed during the war on drugs.
Forensic science pioneer
“I invited Dr. Tidball-Binz because his work speaks for itself. His missions and projects have had an immeasurable impact on the countries he has helped. He has provided closure for families of victims of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances. We are hoping for the same when he visits the Philippines,” Remulla said.
The DOJ described Tidball-Binz as “a well-renowned forensic doctor who pioneered the application of forensic science to human rights investigations for disappearances in Argentina.”
As a medical student, Tidball-Binz took part in the creation of the first-ever genetic database for the identification of victims of enforced disappearances.
As a co-founder of the Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team, the organization developed certain scientific methods to apply to the investigation of human rights and humanitarian violations.
In 2004, he joined the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which is the world’s only humanitarian organization that has forensic capacity used exclusively for humanitarian purposes.
He assisted in the creation of the ICRC Forensic Unit and served as the director until 2017 then proceeded to head the forensic operation for the Humanitarian Project Plan.
The Missing Persons Project was launched by the ICRC in 2018 to assist in the development of new guidelines for the prevention and resolution of missing person cases, which Tidball-Binz was a forensic manager of until 2020. He was appointed as the UN special rapporteur for extrajudicial, summary, or arbitrary executions on April 1, 2021.
“His significant contributions to forensic science, human rights, and humanitarian actions have led to the awarding of two honoris causa doctorates,” the DOJ said.