Human Identification Solutions (HIDS) Virtual Conference, 2020

Jun 23rd, 2020

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Join us at the HIDS Virtual Conference, June 24–25, 2020

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Join us at the HIDS Virtual Conference, June 24–25, 2020

What is HIDS Virtual?

In its 6th annual edition, HIDS will provide a unique opportunity for forensic scientists, practitioners, and criminal investigators to share experiences, learn and network.

Register now

Thermo Fisher have partnered with LabRoots to move the HIDS conference to a virtual environment this year. This will allow even more delegates around the world to benefit from the HIDS experience and will include regional sessions in several languages, in addition to English.

Three live sessions will enable you to experience HIDS Virtual from anywhere in the world, and access content 24 hours per day.

Starting June 24th at 9am BST/10am CET, HIDS Virtual will be a 24 hour event that will include three live sessions across three different time zones, allowing delegates from any country to join the HIDS experience at a time that suits them.

Session 1

London9 AM
Paris10 AM
Moscow11 AM
Dubai12 PM
New Delhi 1:30 PM

Session 2

San Francisco8 AM
Mexico10 AM
New York 11 AM
Sao Paulo 12 PM
 

Session 3

Beijing9 AM
Tokyo10 AM
Sydney11 AM
 
 

Each live session will last approximately four hours and will include two breaks for delegates to visit other parts of the virtual experience, including:

  • Virtual Exhibition
  • Networking Hall
  • Poster Hall
  • Applications Hall

Registration is free at the HIDS Virtual microsite on LabRoots

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Register now


HIDS Virtual live sessions

Why is forensic DNA critical for criminal justice?

This session will be in English

Every minute that a crime remains unsolved is time for someone else to become a victim. We’ll hear from the people responsible for solving crime and learn how they are working together to speed up this process.

Presentations and panel discussion will capture the perspectives of victim advocates, investigators, forensic scientists and legal experts to explain the importance of effective partnerships between law enforcement and forensic labs in solving crimes faster.

While the content and topics will be similar across the three live sessions, there will be different speakers in each of the time zones. How is DNA used by forensic scientists and investigators to solve crime?

Several parallel sessions will occur in each time zone, delivered in English, Russian, Arabic, Spanish/Portuguese and Mandarin (depending on zone)

An array of highly-respected experts will take us through their journey in the implementation, use and evolution of DNA technologies and DNA databases in their jurisdictions.

The focus applications and case studies will include, among others: Sexual Assaults, Violent-Serious Crimes, Property-Volume Crime, Missing Persons, Disaster Victim Identification and Human Trafficking.

Sessions in separate rooms will include live presentations in a variety of languages. Please check the agenda for room locations and times for presentations in English, Russian, Arabic, Spanish/Portuguese and Mandarin.


Register online now


VIRTUAL 9th Annual Forensic Science Symposium to be held June 1-5, 2020.

May 7th, 2020

Registration is now open


The Global Forensic and Justice Center’s mission is “uniting the sciences for justice.” In this unprecedented time, it is uniting with colleagues from around the globe to offer all content of the Virtual 9th Annual Forensic Science Symposium at no cost. The GFJC has decided to waive registration fees for the live and recorded sessions, providing everyone access to CEU opportunities during this global pandemic. THANK YOU GFJC!!

The GFJC will be providing a high-quality symposium this year while maintaining the health and safety of attendees and presenters. Stay tuned for more details on the VIRTUAL 9th Annual Forensic Science Symposium to be held June 1-5, 2020. Information will be shared here and via @FIU_Forensics on Twitter.

Registration is open for the Virtual 9th Annual Forensic Science Symposium. Space is limited for June 1-5 – secure your spot at http://go.fiu.edu/SymposiumRegistration. #FIUForensics#Research#ForensicScience#CriminalJustice

Thank you @QIAGEN for supporting the Annual Forensic Science Symposium! It’s support like yours that makes it possible to waive this year’s registration for all attendees! #research #onlineevents #FIUForensics

COVID-19 updates: Visit the SA Department of Health’s website for COVID-19 updates

Apr 20th, 2020

What is COVID-19?

Human Coronaviruses are common throughout the world. There are many different coronaviruses identified in animals but only a small number of these can cause disease in humans.

On 7 January 2020, ‘Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2’ (SARS-CoV-2) was confirmed as the causative agent of ‘Coronavirus Disease 2019’ or COVID-19. The majority of the case-patients initially identified were dealers and vendors at a seafood, poultry and live wildlife market in China. Since then, the virus has spread to more than 100 countries, including South Africa.

Who is most at risk?

Currently, travellers to areas where there is ongoing sustained transmission of COVID-19 including Mainland China (all provinces), Hong Kong, Japan, Republic of Korea, Singapore, Vietnam, Taiwan, Italy and the Islamic Republic of Iran are at greatest risk of infection.

Furthermore, the elderly, individuals with co-morbidities and healthcare workers have been found to be at a higher risk of death.

How is it transmitted?

While the first cases probably involved exposure to an animal source, the virus now seems to be spreading from person-to-person.

The spread of the disease is thought to happen mainly via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, similar to how influenza and other respiratory pathogens spread. Thus far, the majority of cases have occurred in people with close physical contact to cases and healthcare workers caring for patients with COVID-19.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Current symptoms reported for patients with COVID-19 have included mild to severe respiratory illness with cough, sore throat, shortness of breath or fever.

The complete clinical picture with regard to COVID-19 is still not fully clear. Reported illnesses have ranged from infected people with little to no symptoms to people being severely ill and dying.

How is COVID-19 treated?

Treatment is supportive (providing oxygen for patients with shortness of breath or treating a fever, for example). To date, there is no specific antiviral treatment available. Antibiotics do not treat viral infections. However, antibiotics may be required if a bacterial secondary infection develops.

How can you prevent infection?

The following can provide protection against infection from Coronaviruses and many other viruses that are more common in South Africa:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay at home when you are sick and try and keep a distance from others at home.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a flexed elbow or a tissue, then throw the tissue in the bin.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

What we are doing in South Africa?

On 23 March 2020, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a new measure to combat the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus in South Africa – a three-week nationwide lockdown with severe restrictions on travel and movement, supported by the South African National Defence Force – from midnight on Thursday, 26 March, to midnight on Thursday, 16 April. The President said more needed to be done to avoid “an enormous catastrophe” among the population.

In essence, this meant people would only be allowed to leave their homes to buy food, seek medical help or under other extreme circumstances.

The lockdown follows government regulations that limited public gatherings, travel from high-risk countries and the sale of alcohol.

In addition, borders were closed to reduce the rate of infection from those travelling into South Africa from other countries. A quarantine was also enforced on inbound travellers and returning citizens.

Latest measures

On Wednesday, 1 April, Minister of Health, Dr Zweli Mkhize, launched 60 new mobile laboratories to boost the country’s capacity to test for COVID-19.

The sampling and testing units, procured by the National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS), will be deployed nationwide to all priority districts and metros.

10,000 community health care workers will be deployed across the country for door-to-door household screening. Each province has been requested to start working on this strategy by deploying provincial community healthcare workers, with appropriate Personal Protective Equipment, to undertake a house-to-house programme of “no-touch” screening for Covid-19 symptoms and to refer symptomatic people to clinics for testing.

In addition, PEPFAR-funded District Support Partners have been instructed to support provinces in this programme.

South Africa currently has the capacity to conduct 5,000 tests for COVID-19 daily. However, with the addition of mobile testing units, combined with 180 testing sites and 320 testing units across the country, this number will now increase six-fold.

Visit the SA Department of Health’s website for COVID-19 updates: www.sacoronavirus.co.za

2018 DNA Hit of the Year

May 17th, 2018

The 2018 DNA Hit of the Year was announced at the Human Identification Solutions (HIDS) Conference in Rome, Italy. This year’s selected case is from the Avon and Somerset Constabulary in the United Kingdom. 
 

UNITED KINGDOM MURDER CASE SELECTED AS 2018 DNA HIT OF THE YEAR
 
The thirty-year investigation of the Melanie Road murder case solved through dedicated police investigation and familial DNA matching
 
Rome, Italy, May 4, 2018 – Gordon Thomas Honeywell Governmental Affairs (GTH-GA) has announced that the Melanie Road murder case investigated by the Avon Somerset Constabulary (United Kingdom) was selected as the 2018 DNA Hit of the Year. The case was selected from 61 cases submitted from 14 countries. It was chosen by a panel of seven international judges with career backgrounds in forensic DNA. The recognition was announced during the annual Human Identification Solutions (HIDS) Conference held in Rome, Italy.
 
Now in its second year, the DNA Hit of the Year program is organized by GTH-GA, an international authority on DNA database policy, legislation, and law. “The 2018 slate of cases exemplifies a growing reliance by police to aggressively and creatively pursue DNA database solutions to solve and prevent crime,” said Tim Schellberg, GTH-GA’s President.
 
Judges selected the United Kingdom case from six finalists. The five runner-up cases were from Montenegro, China, and three from the United States. A full list of submitted cases and a presentation on this year’s selected case and other case highlights can be found at http://www.dnaresource.com/ hitoftheyear-2018.html
 
Melanie Road of Bath, United Kingdom was murdered on June 9, 1984. For nearly thirty years, police continuously pursued DNA strategies to solve the crime. The case was ultimately solved when the daughter of the murderer was placed into the United Kingdom DNA database for a minor crime. A few months later, a familial search identified the offender and resulted in his arrest and conviction.
 
Avon Somerset Chief Constable Andy Marsh said: “Solving the murder of Melanie Road has meant so much not just to Melanie’s family, but to the wider community as well as the policing community. In the end it was the advancements in forensic DNA technology as well as the determination, commitment and hard work of our officers that solved the case.”
 
“Being selected as the 2018 Hit of the Year is a great honor and a reminder of the power of DNA databases to bring justice to victims and their families. It is also a testament to the professionalism of all who have worked on the investigation over the years,” said Chief Constable Andy Marsh.



SAPS Forensic Services: Available Posts – Nov 2017

Oct 30th, 2017

New posts within the South African Police Service (SAPS) Forensic Services Division are currently being advertised for and have been added to their website under the ‘Police Act’ section.

Please visit http://www.saps.gov.za/careers/careers.php to view all the various posts and requirements.

CLOSING DATE for all applications: 10 November 2017


Italy wins ‘Hit of the Year’ Award

Jun 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

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

Apr 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.


Secretariat of DNA Board – post advert

Jan 27th, 2017

The following position of Secretariat on the National Forensic Oversight and Ethics Board (DNA Board) (Ref: CSP/01/2017) is currently being advertised.

For enquiries, please kindly contact Ms Lerato Maisela on 012 393 2500 / 1916.

CENTRE: Pretoria

SALARY: R 898 743 per annum (All inclusive remuneration package)

REQUIREMENTS

  • An LLB degree or equivalent tertiary qualification and registration with CIS (Chartered Secretaries Southern Africa) will be an added advantage.
  • A minimum of 5 years’ experience at Middle Management.
  • Sound knowledge of Public Service Systems and applicable legislations and regulations (Corporate legislations, King, III: PFMA, etc.) as well as their functioning.
  • A proven track record in the management of Corporate Governance, working with Boards of Public Entities, processes and systems, Sound and extensive track record incorporating Governance, Budget management and Strategic Management, Be a strategic and analytical thinker with excellent communication and writing skills, People and diversity management experience.
  • Ability to follow organizational objectives and drive synergies in a mature manner and provide a proven track record of experience in similar/relevant previous assignments.
  • Advanced legal drafting skills, Good presentation skills, Good facilitation skills and Project management skills,
  • Sound financial management skills, Planning and organizing skills, Problem solving and decision-making skills, Research skills and Report writing skills.
  • Ability to prioritize and work under pressure.

DUTIES

  • Drafting and development of Policies and Procedures, Drafting recommendations for improvement to legislation and Keeping the Board fully informed of existing and new legislative requirements.
  • Support the DNA Board in the effective management of the Board by drafting reports, developing systems reports.
  • Overseeing the implementation of appropriate database management software solutions, ensuring training of stakeholders and acting as a communication and information channel for the Board members.
  • Overall management and development of the DNA Board staff in terms of Performance Management and Development System.



DNA Board 2015/16 Annual Report

Dec 1st, 2016

The National Forensic Oversight and Ethics Board (or ‘DNA Board’), with Vanessa in attendance as Deputy Chair, met on the 23rd of November to present its Annual Report for 2015/2016 before the Portfolio Committee on Police regarding the DNA Act and its ongoing implementation.

Below is the outcome of what was discussed at the public meeting and includes copies of the report and presentation for viewing.

Meeting Summary

The Committee met with the National Forensic Oversight and Ethics Board (DNA Board), and its accounting officer, the Civilian Secretariat of Police (CSP), to be briefed on its Annual Report for the 2015/16 financial year. Before the briefing, the Committee Content Adviser prepped Members by providing an introductory presentation on the functions of the Board, procedure for handling complaints, composition of the Board, reporting requirements, issues reported to the Committee in its last engagement with the Board in March 2016 and possible questions for the Committee to consider.

The DNA Board then briefed the Committee on part one of its Annual Report for the period 1 April 2015 to 31 March 2016, namely, members of the Board, meetings of the Board for the period, governance and sub-committees and the budget of the Board for the 2015/ 16 financial year. The Report also looked at the Board’s strategic objectives for 2015/16 and challenges encountered in achieving the stated objectives and strategic objectives of the Board for the 2016/17 financial year…

To download and read the full Meeting Summary and Report, please click here.

To download the DNA Board Annual Report, please click here.

To download the DNA Board presentation, please click here.


 
 
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