Remarks. 7th International DNA Users' Conference For Investigative Officers. Ronald K. Noble. INTERPOL Secretary General.

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1 Remarks by Ronald K. Noble INTERPOL Secretary General 7th International DNA Users' Conference For Investigative Officers 06 November 2013 Lyon, France

2 Dr Simon Walsh, Chairman of the INTERPOL DNA Monitoring Expert Group, Dr Manfred Kayser, Head of the Department of Forensic Molecular Biology, Faculty of Medicine, Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands, Dr Thomas Callaghan, Senior Biometric Scientist, Federal Bureau of Investigation Laboratory, United States, Dear Representatives from International Organizations, Dear Members of Private Sector Firms, Distinguished Guests, Dear Colleagues, Good morning, It has been over three years since I addressed many of you at the 6 th International DNA users conference for investigative officers. Much has been achieved since then: there have been successes and there have been lessons learned. Nonetheless, there remains a long way to go. The path to fully exploiting the collective potential of DNA in police investigations is continuously evolving. For this reason, conferences like this week s provide such excellent opportunities for all of us. The current year marks the 15 th anniversary for INTERPOL in the field of DNA. It was the year 1998 that saw the creation of the INTERPOL DNA Monitoring Expert Group (MEG), led ably by you presently, Dr Walsh. This group now has active participation by INTERPOL member countries across the globe; and it continues to provide us with much valued advice throughout the years. Four years after its formation, in 2002, the DNA Monitoring Expert Group helped INTERPOL establish our database for DNA profiles. Today, we have INTERPOL s DNA Gateway that holds almost 140,000 records shared by 68 of our member countries. It grows at the rate of more than 1,000 profiles being added every month resulting in some powerful matches. We have also made sure that our database is carefully managed and respects the highest standards for individual privacy and data protection. Though small in size, member countries who have compared DNA profiles via INTERPOL s DNA Gateway have achieved significant matches or hits. In April 2013, one such hit helped bring justice for a girl subjected to a violent gang rape in Norway in After one of the two suspects was arrested for theft in Austria, a positive match in our database linked him to the 2008 rape case. This was followed by his extradition to Norway, and further revelation of the second suspect s details by the arrested individual. Two countries proved why it is important to compare DNA data across borders, and as a result a benefit for their countries: Norway by allowing an unsolved crime scene profile to stay in INTERPOL s database after its initial search provided a negative result in 2008; and Austria, by putting in place a national procedure for international DNA searching. Had the DNA data been deleted after five years, Norway might never have learned that Austria had arrested one of the suspects for another crime. This charged violent rapist could still be on the loose putting citizens in any one of our countries at risk. Page 2/5

3 The DNA match between Austria and Norway once again highlights the benefits of countries putting in place a national procedure for the systematic comparison of unsolved crime scene DNA profiles against INTERPOL s DNA database. Austria was actually the first-ever country to sign up for INTERPOL s database of DNA profiles, and it continues to upload and update, on a monthly basis, its unsolved crime scene profiles and arrested foreign nationals. Austria does not limit itself to national databases or even to the EU DNA data exchange under Prüm. Austria uses investigative tools at the global level via INTERPOL as well. For these reasons, numerous successes you will hear INTERPOL speak about involve Austria. Many of you would still remember the 2010 case cited by me at the 6 th International DNA users conference: That of an Afghan national arrested in Austria as part of an investigation into a rape, who thanks to a DNA match via INTERPOL s DNA Gateway was linked to unsolved violent sex attacks in the US. Since then, the 32-year-old man, identified as Ali Achekzai, has been extradited to the US and convicted for his crimes in He has been sentenced to 56 years in prison and is therefore no longer a threat to women in Austria, in the US or worldwide. The point is that comparing and keeping unsolved crime scene DNA profiles in INTERPOL S DNA Database can help solve your own cases and other countries cases as well. Standard operating procedures established at a national level should include consulting international databases in unsolved crime cases, or cases involving non-nationals, to enhance the likelihood of identifying dangerous criminals and getting them off the streets. INTERPOL realizes that a single solution will not suffice for maximizing international DNA data exchange, and this is why we work through several tools. The electronic INTERPOL DNA Exchange Network and the DNA Bi-lateral Matcher are examples of our multipronged approach. While the Exchange Network allows for the secure communication of DNA profiles to other countries, our new DNA Bilateral Matcher provides for a private platform for partner countries to match their selected data against each other, in accordance with their matching criteria, without compromising sovereignty. The fact also remains that substantial variations in technology exist among different states. At INTERPOL we try to work with state-of-the-art technology which is compatible with the technology of our member countries. Our search for high quality technological support is never ending because DNA technology is constantly evolving. That is why last week, I visited the Netherlands Forensic Institute (NFI) in The Hague the world-renowned international city of Peace and Justice. The National Forensic Institute has established itself around the world as a leader in forensics. It is a partner of the international courts in The Hague and of organizations such as the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) as well as the United Nations (UN). INTERPOL and the National Forensic Institute or NFI are exploring right now the possibilities of a partnership. From my point of view, this would be a logical step since the NFI just like INTERPOL believes in the need for constant innovation in forensics and seeks to help countries around the world enhance their forensic capabilities. One of the examples is very relevant for our DNA meeting today. I am talking about the software DNA tool called Bonaparte. Page 3/5

4 Bonaparte is designed to facilitate quick and reliable human identification. It is equally suitable for kinship analysis, for missing person identification and for Disaster Victim Identification purposes. But besides these uses, Bonaparte fits very well with another aim of this INTERPOL DNA conference, namely the use of DNA in national police strategies. This week, my colleagues from INTERPOL met with the NFI and their partner SMART Research a spinoff from the Radboud University in The Netherlands, and we agreed to expand member countries DNA search capabilities via INTERPOL through the use of Bonaparte. I am convinced that this will be a huge step forward in reaching INTERPOL s goals with regard to both DVI and the use of DNA for national police strategies. Eventually, this will also boost assistance in the use of DNA investigations for identifying missing persons, as illustrated by a very recent case. Only a few weeks ago, INTERPOL issued a Yellow (Missing Persons) Notice to help Greece identify a young girl found in a Roma settlement there. We asked our member countries to provide us with the DNA profiles of persons claiming to be Maria s relatives. Unfortunately, in order to compare those profiles, we would have been required to ask member countries or entities like the NFI to do the comparisons because INTERPOL s current DNA Gateway does not allow kinship comparisons. By linking ourselves to the NFI and Bonaparte, this is about to change, and all INTERPOL member countries will benefit as a result. We will now be able to use our Gateway to identify missing persons based on DNA from biological relatives, which has proved essential in many cases at the national level. As you can see, INTERPOL s strategy in keeping up with the latest DNA technology available is to link ourselves to strong partners, whether public or private. In this regard, I would like to thank both the NFI and SMART Research for their contribution to our efforts, so that we continue to provide our member countries with the most effective tools and services. Many of us have no difficulty in thinking of how DNA can be used in a wide range of police investigations involving the identification of humans; however, humans are not the only species that need to be identified in order to solve crimes and locate criminals. In July this year, an INTERPOL Investigative Support Team (IST) was deployed in Sri Lanka. The team s task was to take samples from more than 350 elephant tusks seized from an illegal consignment in order to help Sri Lankan authorities investigate transnational organized crime. The samples were collected and sent to the Center for Conservation Biology at the University of Washington in the United States in order to determine via DNA analysis geographical origin of the tusks. Samples were also sent to the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation for chemical isotope analysis, for age determination. Through the use of DNA and isotope analysis, poaching hotspots could be located in Africa, which will help police better target criminal networks involved in transnational organized trafficking in wildlife. As you can see, when it comes to using DNA technology, the critical importance of research and innovation cannot be overstated. We look forward to hearing more on scientific advances for DNA investigation from Dr Kayser of The Netherlands. We are also grateful for having with us here from the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation Dr Tom Callaghan, a former INTERPOL DNA Monitoring Expert Group member, to chair a session on Rapid DNA. In the year of the last International DNA Users conference 2010, the FBI had Page 4/5

5 developed a Rapid DNA Program Office to explore the use of this groundbreaking technology for law enforcement work. With him, there will be the companies developing this technology. This should provide for a very interesting session I am sure. Let me also say how pleased I am to have with us General Jarumpom Suramanee, Deputy Commissioner-General of the Royal Thai Police. He is responsible for all forensic work in the Kingdom of Thailand a country with a population of over 65 million and with more than 70 million visitors per year. Thailand knows that in order to keep its country safe from international criminals and to help identify those who have gone missing, it needs a strong forensic and DNA capability. Deputy Commissioner-General Jarumpom Suramanee will give us invaluable insight in this regard. Finally, all of you should know our own DNA expert, Dr Susan Hitchin, who has been our leader in developing INTERPOL s DNA Gateway and Database. Susan and our colleagues here at INTERPOL General Secretariat Headquarters will be responsible for making sure that all the 130 of you from more than 50 of our member countries get the most out of this 7 th International DNA users conference. Please count on INTERPOL to always be with you in our collective pursuit of a safer world. Thank you and I wish you an extremely fruitful conference. Page 5/5

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