November 14th, 2007 07:47 EST
INTERPOL's 5th International DNA Users Conference
INTERPOL`s 5th International DNA Users` Conference opened today in Lyon with a call for increased sharing of DNA profiles at the international level and more effective use of DNA technology for the benefit of day-to-day police investigations.
The three-day conference brings together around 120 forensic scientists, database custodians, police investigators and heads of laboratories from some 50 countries and three international organizations.
Delegates will hear how DNA was used to help identify victims of disasters such as the Asian tsunami of 2004, the World Trade Center bombings of 2001 and Hurricane Katrina in 2005. They will also discuss international co-operation and standards, new techniques and hear experiences from several countries on their national DNA profiling.
Opening the conference, INTERPOL Secretary General Ronald K. Noble emphasised INTERPOL`s commitment to forensic technology and urged the group to adopt measures for sharing with INTERPOL the DNA profiles of non-nationals arrested in their countries.
`I believe that, if applied systematically, this will have a significant positive impact in clearing major unsolved investigations,` said Mr Noble.
INTERPOL`s DNA profile database was created in 2003 and currently contains 71,300 profiles contributed by 46 countries. It is the world`s only global DNA database that facilitates the sharing and comparison of profiles among all INTERPOL`s 186 member countries. So far, 17 countries have signed up to the DNA Gateway Charter, which allows for automatic comparison of profiles between countries.
Advancements in sharing DNA profiles from crime scenes internationally among police were welcomed by keynote speaker John Dickinson from the United Kingdom, who began campaigning for the international exchange of DNA profiles after his daughter Caroline was raped and murdered while on holiday in a French youth hostel in 1996 when she was 13 years old.
Highlighting the long struggle to identify and convict his daughter`s killer, Mr Dickinson said that the exchange of DNA profiles across international boundaries should be a matter of routine.
`A structured international exchange of DNA data " such as is now possible through the Interpol DNA Gateway " is very important, and time is of the essence to maximise the potential of the database to crucially help save lives,` he told delegates.
Spaniard Francisco Arce Montes was convicted of Caroline`s murder in 2004 on DNA evidence after being arrested on other charges in Miami, USA in 2001.