UNODC strengthens forensic services in Turkmenistan
29 March 2022
Forensic services are key to an effective and fair criminal justice system.
Forensic services are key to an effective and fair criminal justice system because it provides objective and timely information to process evidence at different stages of the criminal justice process. Effective use of forensic science can enhance criminal justice for the whole community, whereas the ineffective use of forensic science can ultimately lead to false imprisonment and miscarriages of justice.
“Well-structured and equipped forensic laboratories, as well as qualified forensic experts are crucial for the criminal justice system, as they provide invaluable information that aids in the investigation and prosecution of crime and allows building cases based on physical evidence rather than on confession and testimony”, says Mr. Koen Marquering, International Manager of the UNODC Criminal Justice Programme in Central Asia.
UNODC has been supporting two forensic laboratories in Turkmenistan since 2019 aiming at aligning their performance and procedures towards internationally accepted ISO/IEC 17025 standard, establishing a pool of well-trained experts and obtaining international accreditation.
To demonstrate the achieved results under the UNODC Project Strengthening Forensic Services in Turkmenistan, implemented with financial support from the US State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL), UNODC together with its key counterparts: two forensic laboratories of the Ministry of Health and Medical Industry (MOH) and Ministry of Interior (MOI) called an inter-agency coordination meeting on forensic matters. The inter-agency coordination meeting is the key UNODC -facilitated platform aimed at strengthening coordination and cooperation on forensics in Turkmenistan.
The comprehensive needs assessment conducted by UNODC and national counterparts in June 2019 outlined the gaps and training needs in forensics. In line with these findings, 5 representatives of the Forensic Laboratories of Turkmenistan visited accredited forensic laboratories of Lithuania to learn about quality management.
Within the first phase of the project lasted from 2019 until 2020, over 40 Turkmen forensic experts passed through an intensive training programme to strengthen their professional expertise and skills on Quality Management in Forensic Science being equipped with expertise on understanding and interpretation of the ISO/IEC 17025 requirements. Additionally, experts learned how to develop the Quality Management System documentation, as well as obtained an information on Metrological Traceability; Reference Materials and Control Samples; and Method validation.
Forensic laboratory of the Ministry of Health and Medical Industry participated at the UNODC’s International Collaborative Exercises (ICE) which allows laboratories from all over the world to continuously monitor and improve their performance in drug testing, including analyses of drugs in seized materials and biological specimens. Participation of laboratories in the ICE exercise is an essential part of the accreditation process of the labs. Turkmenistan joined the ICE Programme in 2020.
In June 2020, UNODC and U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs launched the Phase II of the project worth 200 000 US $, which continued enhancement of Turkmen forensic experts’ capacities on crime scene investigation and evidence management, validation of analytical methods used to identify and quantify drugs, poisons and their metabolites in biological fluids or tissues. Another two trainings were focused on internal audits and management review, and on strengthening the metrics' reading, interpretation skills and introduce the use of control charts in lab examinations.
UNODC in partnership with forensic laboratory of the Ministry of Health and Medical industry (MOH) developed Management System of the Central Forensic Bureau of Turkmenistan, Management System Guidelines and Policy, including 26 procedures and 85 forms which are necessary to be in place and in active use as one of the key prerequisites for accreditation.
Outlining the achievements reached within the project cycle, Mr. Gurbangeldi Pirliyev, the Head of the Central Forensic Bureau of Turkmenistan, noted: “As part of our close cooperation, with the support of UNODC, our specialists are constantly improving their knowledge and expertise through participation in trainings, workshops, as well as through participation in proficiency testing exercises. We fully rely on the support from UNODC in the process of applying for accreditation and hope that our cooperation will continue to be as effective and will lead to positive outcomes”.
UNODC supports the efforts of Turkmenistan to strengthen the forensic services with funding provided by the US State Department's Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) by implementing the Strengthening Forensic Services in Turkmenistan project Phase II.