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Afghan judiciary now using biometric forensics


A prisoner, recently convicted by an Afghan judge, was sent to prison using modern forensic techniques. In a short statement, the judge explained that human fingerprints are unique and undeniable evidence. The judge took the time to explain his position, because this was the first case that ever used forensic evidence in an Afghani court. In a statement he said: “Since the prophet Adam until today, the fingerprints of every human are unique”.

The conviction was handed down in a courthouse in Bagram, Afghanistan. Khalid was convicted after his fingerprints matched those found on a roadside bomb, which exploded in April 2010. The blast wounded five soldiers as it hit a coalition military patrol.

Traditionally, Afghan courts would often rely on verbal confessions in a trial. These were treated as fact and often accepted in courts as evidence. However, most confessions are either obtained illegally through torture or at the very least, under duress. The same does not hold true for forensic evidence, as this is solid and tangible proof, which is collected from a crime scene, a suspect or the victim. The incorporation of forensic technology into Afghanistan’s judicial system makes it rely less on confession-based evidence.

The prisoner known as Khalid, went on trial last month in the detention facility in Parwan, which is a US-run prison in Afghanistan. The court complex is located at the US military base in Bagram. Here, the US is involved in a mentoring program for the judges and their staff, in the hopes to leave behind a judicial system that is acceptable to the international community.

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