Archive for the ‘DNA Project’ Category

 

Italy wins ‘Hit of the Year’ Award

Wednesday, June 7th, 2017

Starting in 2017, a new international DNA database award was created and awarded by Gordon Thomas Honeywell Governmental Affairs (GTH-GA) to bring an increased awareness to the incredible power of forensic DNA databases to solve crime and provide closure to victims and their families and to also recognise the dedication of investigators and forensic scientists throughout the world.

This year’s inaugural “Hit of the Year” winner was Italy.

Our very own Vanessa was amongst this year’s panel of judges and we congratulate Italy on winning the award. 

ITALIAN MURDER CASE WINS THE 2017 DNA DATABASE HIT OF THE YEAR AWARD

New international award brings attention to the value of using criminal offender DNA database to solve crime and bring closure to victims and families

Vienna, Austria, May 17, 2017 — Gordon Thomas Honeywell Governmental Affairs (GTH-GA) has awarded the inaugural DNA Database Hit of the Year award to the Italian Carabinieri and Polizia di Stato for its dedicated work on the Yara Gambirasio murder case. The winning case was selected from 50 cases submitted by 15 countries, and was chosen by a panel of seven international judges with career backgrounds in forensic DNA. The award was announced during the annual Human Identification Solutions (HIDS) Conference held in Vienna, Austria.

“The DNA Hit of the Year Award is designed to bring increased awareness to the incredible power of forensic DNA databases to solve crime and provide closure to victims and their families. It also recognizes the dedication of investigators and forensic scientists throughout the world who use DNA databases to pursue justice,” said Tim Schellberg, GTH-GA’s President.

The judges selected the Italian case from five finalist cases. The four runner-up cases were from China, Austria, and two from the United States. A full list of submitted cases and a presentation describing this year’s award and case highlights can be found at www.dnaresource.com/hitoftheyearmain.html

Yara Gambirasio (of Brembate di Sopra, Italy) was murdered on November 26, 2010. To identify the suspect, whose full DNA profile was found at the crime scene, Italian authorities developed the world’s largest known DNA mass screen database. Using this tool, investigators and analysts embarked on a complex and exhaustive familial DNA searching scenario that ultimately led to an arrest on June 14, 2015. The suspect was convicted on July 1, 2016. “I have never seen a case where so much effort was put into finding a suspect through the use of DNA. The men and women of the Italian Carabinieri and the Polizia di Stato should be commended for their tireless work to identify the person that matched the DNA left at the crime scene,” said Rock Harmon, Retired Senior Deputy Prosecuting Attorney for Alameda County, California (USA), and one of the judges for the 2017 Gordon Thomas Honeywell Governmental Affairs Hit of the Year Award.

Media contact: Tim Schellberg – tims@gth-gov.com – +1 (253) 209-8818

About GTH-GA

Gordon Thomas Honeywell Governmental Affairs is globally recognized as experts in forensic DNA database policy, legislation, and law. For nearly twenty years, consultants at GTH-GA have consulted in over 50 countries and states on legislation and policies to establish or expand criminal offender DNA databases.

Sincerely,

Tim Schellberg

Xtraordinary Woman of the Month – Vanessa Lynch

Thursday, May 18th, 2017

This month Vanessa was chosen as Xtraordinary Women‘s “Woman of the Month” with the following article being published by them on their website…

Vanessa Lynch – Executive Director of The DNA Project & Deputy Chair of National Forensic DNA Oversight & Ethics Board

Having graduated from Law School at UCT in 1993 I pursued a legal career for the following ten years. In 2004, after the brutal murder of my father, I founded the NGO “The DNA Project” in an effort to alleviate crime in South Africa through the use of a National Forensic DNA Database. It thus became my mission to help establish infrastructures and laws in South Africa which would ensure that forensic DNA technology was used to its best advantage. To that end I have assisted with the drafting of the new DNA Act and have been commended for the contribution I have made to law reform in this regard.

I have driven the development of a specific career path in Forensic DNA both in science and law and was appointed by the Minister of Police as the Deputy Chair of the National Forensic Oversight and Ethics Board in January 2015, a position which I currently still hold.

You are busy with some very interesting projects. Please tell us a little more about that.

As Deputy Chair of the National Forensic Oversight and Ethics Board, I am currently overseeing the implementation of the DNA Act in SA and the growth of the National DNA Database – when I read about cases such as this one published just today, I am filled with hope that we have done a good thing! I am also involved with various University Master’s programs on Forensic DNA and the Law, as well as for Officers of the Court. I am about to start studying again too, which I hope will culminate in a PhD in Forensic Law and then – well, the sky’s the limit and I will probably have a complete career change!

To continue reading the full article please click here

Carte Blanche ‘Catch-Up’ with Vanessa

Wednesday, April 12th, 2017

Watch Vanessa Lynch’s recent ‘catch-up’ interview with Carte Blanche‘s Laura Byrne at the 4th Annual Forensic Services Conference wherein she discusses the continued work of the National Forensic Oversight and Ethics Board (NFOEB) and the implementation of the DNA Act.

To view the programme segment please click here.

Change a Life – Mike Thomson murder feedback

Thursday, August 4th, 2016

We received the following incredible feedback from the Mike Thomson Change a Life Trust that we wish to share…

It was eight years ago that Mike Thomson was tragically murdered and the Mike Thomson Change a Life Trust was formed in his memory. In all these years his killers had not been brought to book but his mother, Diana, reports that the wait for justice is finally over.

On Tuesday, 26 July 2016, the final member and leader of the gang responsible for Mike’s murder was sentenced to 15 years for armed robbery and 20 years for murder. Although the sentence will run concurrently with the 37 years he is serving at present, it will add to the years he will not be eligible for parole. Diana says that, after all the years Razor Zulu has been completely unrepentant and has pleaded not guilty to the crime, he made an about face the day before the trial and plead guilty to the crime.  He also apologised to Diana and Lorna, Mike’s widow.

Two members of the gang had previously pleaded guilty and turned state witness against Razor Zulu and another man named Stofele. They were given 25 and 20 years respectively.  The final outcome has been that of the five members of the gang, three are in prison, one was killed during a gun battle after escaping from prison and Stofele was released for lack of evidence against him.

Mike’s family can finally take comfort that these people will not be at liberty to continue with their reign of terror for many years to come.

The DNA Project wishes to extend our heartfelt thanks to the Mike Thomson Change a Life Trust for their many years of amazing support.

Their continued support enabled us to bring about a positive change not only through our various projects and awareness campaigns, but most importantly in allowing us to champion the need for effective legislation in South Africa – which ultimately lead to the passing of the new ‘DNA Act’ – to make better use of forensic DNA evidence as a crime fighting tool.

Thank you!

Thanks from Kuils River CPF

Thursday, April 21st, 2016

We recently received a wonderful thank you email from the Kuils River CPF following a DNA and crime scene awareness workshop we presented for them on the 12th of March 2016 that we wish to share…

Good day Ms Moodley

I must share this with you.

The neighborhood watch members whom attended the DNA course. Had an opportunity to attend a crime scene before the police or any armed response companies and could secure and preserve the crime properly and done an excellent hand over of the scene to SAPS.

Thank you for the workshop the neighborhood watch members are now talking highly of the course and are encouraging other members to attend the next course.

Well done to DNA Project.

Kind Regards
Wesley Prinsloo

Well done to the Kuils River CPF members on successfully securing their crime scene for the SAPS!

Kuils River CPF workshop presented by DNAP trainer Renate on 12 March 2016

Change a Life Wonderland Cycle Tour 2016

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2016

The 2016 Change a Life Wonderland Cycle Tour, scheduled to take place from 22 to 27 September heads to the magical Island of Mauritius.

Where participants will be treated to unspoilt beaches, crystal blue waters, exclusive luxury accommodation and an adventure that will be remembered forever…

Named the Change a Life Wonderland Tour in honour of Lewis Carroll’s fantasy novel, Alice in Wonderland, it will draw on the link between one of the book’s much-loved characters and the extinct Dodo bird that was endemic to Mauritius.

70 leading South African business, political and sporting personalities will participate in the challenging 500 km ride in sublime conditions which will include the exquisite azure sea and fine white sandy beaches of the Indian Ocean island.

Mauritius also offers visitors a mountainous interior that boasts a natural park with rainforests, waterfalls, hiking trails and native fauna such as the flying fox, and the experience of a cultural melting pot that fuses the past with the future.?

To learn more, please visit www.changealifecycle.co.za

Welcome 2016!

Sunday, January 10th, 2016

Greetings to all

As the New Year dawns, we hope 2016 is filled with the promises of a brighter tomorrow =)

Happy New Year!

2015 International Symposium on Human Identification (ISHI)

Monday, October 12th, 2015

In its 26th year, ISHI is the largest conference on forensic DNA analysis in the world and will take place from October 12 – October 15, in Grapevine, Texas (US).

Following her presentation at last year’s ISHI, Vanessa was invited to return this year and will be presenting a talk (Wednesday, October 14) entitled “Investigation of a Ruthless Rapist” – which will focus on the identification and conviction of Albert Morake, a ruthless South African serial rapist who committed 30 rapes between 2007 until his capture in 2012.

This year’s keynote speaker is Kirk Bloodsworth, the first person to be exonerated from death row through post-conviction DNA testing, and will open the symposium by sharing his story. Bloodsworth spent nine years in prison and more than two years on death row before DNA evidence identified the true perpetrator of the 1984 rape and murder for which he was imprisioned. Today, Bloodsworth is an advocate for the wrongfully convicted and speaks publicly to highlight the risk of wrongful convictions and dangers of the death penalty.

ISHI 26 includes presentations from leading professionals in the fields of forensic DNA analysis, genomics, forensic anthropology, medical molecular diagnostics, law enforcement and more.

Filmmaker Alexa Barrett and Sara Huston Katsanis, a Science & Society Initiative Instructor at Duke University, will be presenting The Living Disappeared, an exploration of how DNA is being used to prevent child trafficking. Their presentation will include a brief preview of Barrett’s film by the same name.

Phenotyping, which utilizes DNA evidence to help predict what a suspect might look like, will be explored from multiple angles. Ellen Greytak, Director of Bioinformatics at Parabon NanoLabs, will present DNA Phenotyping: Predicting Ancestry and Physical Appearance from Forensic DNA, and David Ballard, a research associate in forensic genetics and senior scientist at King’s College London, will present DNA Phenotyping: What Can and Should We Predict?

Other presenters include: Marie Allen (Uppsala University, Sweden), Bruce Budowle (Institute of Applied Genetics), Thomas Callaghan (Federal Bureau of Investigation), Douglas Hares (Federal Bureau of Investigation), Rock Harmon (retired, Alameda County District Attorney’s Office), George Herrin (Georgia Bureau of Investigation), CeCe Moore (Institute for Genetic Genealogy), Fredy Peccerelli (Forensic Anthropology Foundation of Guatemala) and Jim Thomson (LGC).

This year’s event also includes more than 140 scientific posters including a submission by Colleen Fitzpatrick, a forensic genealogist, who will share her work exposing false Holocaust accounts. Fitzpatrick is also collaborating on the recently re-opened “Somerton Man” case, which involves the exhumation of a 45-year-old John Doe who died under mysterious circumstances and washed up on a beach fully clothed in Adelaide, Australia, in 1948.

In addition to the 3-day series of general session presentations, optional small group workshops are available, including:

  • Analyzing and Utilizing Data from Next-Generation Sequencers in the Forensic Genomics Era
  • Forensic Mixtures: Assessment, Analysis and Technology: Current Methods, New Approaches and Disruptive Technologies
  • Advanced Methods for DNA Based Identification of Skeletal Remains Countdown to 2017: Internal Validation of the New CODIS Loci
  • DNA Identification Strategies for Skeletal Remains and Other Challenging Samples

A complete list of workshops, speaker biographies, the ISHI blog and ongoing program updates are available at the symposium website: www.ishinews.com.

This symposium for forensic experts and suppliers is offered through Promega Corporation, a leader in providing innovative solutions and technical support to the life sciences industry. Founded in 1978, the company is headquartered in Madison, WI, USA, with branches in 16 countries and over 50 global distributors. For more information about Promega, visit www.promega.com.

South Africa’s first Women in Law and Leadership Summit

Monday, August 31st, 2015

UPDATED: Please note that the 2-day event has been finalised and changed to a 1-day programme and will now take place on Sept 18 only.

UCTLaw@Work in partnership with the Centre for Integrative Law will be presenting South Africa’s first Women in Law & Leadership Summit: Finding New Ways for Women to Lead in Law this September (18th).

Vanessa has been invited to speak at the event and will be joining fellow panelists Sally Hutton and Janet Taylor-Hall for ‘Barrier Breakers: Inspirational Stories of Women Who Broke New Ground‘.

The summit has been structured as a much needed space in which women lawyers can be inspired, uplifted, supported and challenged.  It convenes preeminent women in law including law firm partners and associates, in-house counsel, advocates, NPO lawyers and academics open to sharing their stories. It is not a series of talks on “how I made partner.” Instead, we’ll be asking speakers to go a little deeper. This 1 day event is structured into panels and facilitated group discussions which include sessions on:

  • Do women lead differently from men? If so, how does this play out in the legal profession?
  • To close the pay gap you need to know your worth
  • Women who have broken new ground
  • Do we overvalue competence and undervalue confidence?
  • Managing career transitions in law
  • Developing your skills as a rainmaker

Panellists include:

  • Vanessa Lynch, Director of the DNA Project
  • Sally Hutton, Managing Partner, Webber Wentzel
  • Vivienne Lawack, Dep Vice Chancellor, UWC
  • Terry Winstanley, Director, DLACDH
  • Beverley Clark, Director, Clark Attorneys
  • Shelley Mackay-Davidson, Partner at The Bannister Group
  • Melanie Holderness, Advocate at the Cape Bar
  • Lerato Molefe, Attorney & Director of Naaya Consulting
  • Janet Taylor-Hall, owner of Cognia Law
  • Angela Simpson, Partner, Head of Talent Management, Webber Wentzel
  • Wendy Applebaum, Philanthropist and businesswoman
  • Robyn Hey, Director, HWD Attorneys
  • Candice Pillay, Director, Hogan Lovells

Date: Friday 18 September 2015

Venue: the River Club, Observatory

Cost:

Lawyers in private practice & In House Counsel: R1995

Public Service & NPO lawyers: R1595

Full Time Law Students: R500

Please enquire about group discounts

Email Enquiries: andrea.blaauw@uct.ac.za

To register through UCT’s Law@work Division: please click HERE

TO SEE THE PROGRAM FIRST: please click HERE

Email queries: andrea.blaauw@uct.ac.za

Website: www.integrativelaw.co.za

Woman’s Day: Cape Town’s fearless females

Tuesday, August 4th, 2015

A look at six trailblazing Mother City ladies… The following is an excerpt from Cape Town Magazine’s recent article ahead of Women’s Day which features six stellar women – one of whom is our very own Vanessa Lynch…

On Thursday, 9 August 1956, 20 000 women of all races came together to challenge an oppressive government and petition against legislation that required “non-whites” to carry a pass, an identification document designed to curtail freedom of movement during Apartheid. Since the fall of the regime in 1994, the day has been annually commemorated as Women’s Day to highlight the strength and resilience of women during the resistance.

More recently, the South African public holiday’s raison d’etre has broadened – it’s no longer just a celebration of a single act of solidarity, but a day devoted to a more general recognition of the spirit and accomplishment of women. Furthermore, in the past few years, the occasion has been used as a rallying point in the fight for women’s rights.

Rape, domestic abuse and issues relating to gender inequality are still way too prevalent in a country that has come so far in the fight against discrimination, and the need to use the holiday as an instrument of advocacy and to shine the spotlight on the savvy sisters defying norms is paramount.

So, while there are thousands of courageous ladies showing the world how absolutely amazing women can be, we’ve narrowed our list down to a few in specialist fields – namely: arts and culture, winemaking, altruism, construction, the culinary arts and management consulting – who are flying the flag for the bright, the brainy and the brilliant and serving as a source of inspiration for the masses.

VANNESA LYNCH: DNA Project Founder & Creative Director

Following the murder of her father in 2004 and the blatant disregard and destruction of evidence containing DNA by the police, community members and other first-on-crime scene responders, Vanessa Lynch began to seek ways in which to meaningfully contribute towards the alleviation of crime in South Africa.

Driven by her own traumatic experience, this extraordinary woman embarked on a journey (for over a decade) where she founded an organisation that aimed to practically address the crime situation in South Africa through the expanded use of DNA evidence in conjunction with South Africa’s National DNA Database. Introduce the DNA Project.

Where some may not have been able to find the strength, this incredible woman did and because of her determination and resilience (and her ability to forge relationships with police and government), we now have a pioneering new DNA Act on our statute books: The Criminal Law (Forensic Procedures) Amendment Act 37 of 2013 (DNA Act), which came into law on January 27, 2014 and into effect early this year on January 31, 2015. It is now mandatory for all arrested and convicted scheduled eight offenders to be swabbed for DNA and the results stored in the DNA database.

Currently, Vanessa also sits on the National Forensic and Oversight Ethics Board as the Deputy Chair. What’s more, just as the DNA Project has developed the Forensic Honours Degree at the UFS, which is also offered at UCT, UWC, MGI and soon UKZN, they have also begun to develop a subject outline for a “DNA and the Law” course for law students in an attempt to bridge the gap between science and law. Furthermore, the Innocence Project of South Africa (IPSA) has also recently been restructured and will be driven by the DNAP, the Wits Justice Project and UWC as a tripartite partnership, should the organisations bid for funding be successful.

Leading Ladies in Vanessa’s Life: “My Grandmother taught me things about life and the universe that would have shocked most at the time but have had a profound effect on my life – she warned me about global warming in the 70’s! An eccentric, non-conventional and unforgettable woman (not always for the right reasons!) who was way beyond her time. Wangari Maathai, the Kenyan environmentalist who began a movement to reforest her country by paying poor women a few shillings to plant trees and who went on to become the first African woman to win a Nobel Peace Prize. She started the Green Belt Movement – its mission was to plant trees across Kenya to fight erosion and to create firewood for fuel and jobs for women – to date 30 million trees in Africa have been planted and  nearly 900,000 women in Africa have been helped. It took her one tree to plant a forest, a philosophy that I have always lived by and her achievement shows how that is in fact possible.”

Read more – To view the full article published in Cape Town Magazine featuring all six fearless Cape Town women, please click here.

SOURCE: Cape Town Magazine