The Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team (Equipo Argentino de Antropología Forense, EAAF) is a non-governmental, not-for-profit, scientific organization that applies forensic sciences – mainly forensic anthropology, genetics, and archaeology – to the investigation of human rights violations in Argentina and worldwide. EAAF was established in 1984 to investigate the cases of at least 9,000 disappeared people in Argentina under the last military government (1976-1983). In its 30 years of existence, the team has worked in more than 50 countries in Latin America, Africa, Asia and Europe.
Through use of forensic sciences, EAAF helps relatives of victims of human rights violations to access their rights to justice and truth by offering them an independent forensic investigation and the possibility of recovering the remains of their missing relatives. In addition, to EAAF it is important to provide physical evidence to support national and international trials, truth commissions, and other accountability processes, to collaborate in the development of the application of forensic sciences to the investigation of human rights violations, and to contribute to the historical reconstruction of recent large scale or grave instances of repression.
EAAF’s Border Project, begun at the end of 2009, aims to create a regional forensic mechanism on missing persons and unidentified remains to significantly improve both the identifications of missing persons, particularly migrants, among unidentified remains in the region, and the response of governments to the families searching for missing migrant relatives. The project includes the US border region, Central American countries, and Mexico. This multiyear project aims to respond to: the lack of a regional, coordinated forensic system to exchange information on a massive scale concerning these cases; the need to improve the quality and number of identifications; the growing number of migrant deaths in Mexico and the US; and the strongly insufficient governmental response across the region to properly investigate or work to identify remains that could correspond to migrants, as well as the neglect or harassment of both Mexican and Central American families searching for missing migrants. The work supports the fundamental rights of migrants—the right of families for access to truth about the ultimate fates of their loves ones, as well as in some cases justice when wrongdoing has taken place.
Since late 2009, EAAF has been pursuing two parallel initiatives to address these issues The first is a forensic data collection project for the collection and exchange of information about missing persons and unidentified remains between selected border regions in Mexico and the US with migrant communities of origin in Mexican states and Central American countries. The pilot project involves the creation of Forensic Data Banks in migrant communities of origin, containing case files with all available information on each missing migrant, including physical and background information on the missing migrants as well as genetic profiles of their relatives. These Forensic Data Banks are formed by governmental and non-governmental institutions, a key element to centralize information and human and financial resources. The Forensic Banks dramatically improve the quantity and accuracy of information available for families, organizations, and government agencies searching for missing persons and/or investigating unidentified remains in the border regions. The second initiative is a strategic planning project involving forensic sharing data and methodology agreements with Mexico-US border forensic institutions, state prosecutors’ offices, NGOs, and other relevant institutions collecting information on missing persons and unidentified remains. It also involves information sharing and specific activities with intergovernmental bodies like the OAS and UN. This strategic planning project works towards the overall goal of providing support for improving local and regional forensic systems and facilitating collaboration and information sharing and improve immediate case outcomes. Further, as part of the overall Border Project, EAAF works as part of the Forensic Commission—a special set of investigations conducted under an agreement created in 2013 between EAAF, multiple NGOs from Central America and Mexico, and the Procuraduría General de la República (PGR) regarding nearly 200 unidentified remains from two massacres in Tamaulipas (2010 and 2011) and one in Cadereyta (2012), the victims of which are Mexican and Central American migrants.
As of December 2016, the Border Project includes 1,014 cases of missing migrants, as well as 2,733 blood samples processed from their relatives from El Salvador, Honduras, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Ecuador, Peru, Brazil, Oaxaca, and Chiapas, as well as select cases from other Mexican states. Further, thus far, this multi-year initiative has reached 133 identifications, 41 from El Salvador, 25 from Honduras, 27 from Guatemala, 4 from Chiapas, 32 from Mexico non-Chiapas regions, 2 from Nicaragua, 1 from Costa Rica, and 1 from Ecuador. These numbers not only represent a significant outcome of the Border Project work since the launch of the project in 2009, these numbers, most importantly, also represent outcomes for the families of missing migrants and demonstrate support for those families in their right to truth, to justice, and to recover the remains of their loved ones
Central America, Mexico and the US migrant corridor.
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(1034) Buenos Aires, Argentina. Tel: 54 11 4951 8547
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