FBINAA Latin America-Caribbean Conference

Remarks by Ambassador Jean Manes in the FBINAA Latin America-Caribbean Re-Trainer Conference

Monday, May 6, 2019, 8:00 A.M., Sheraton Hotel

## This is a courtesy translation. Only the original Spanish version should be considered authoritative ##

We are here today to explore the future of criminal investigations in the Latin American region and to find new ways to achieve this goal. Conferences like these are how we begin to build this vision.  On behalf of the government of the United States, it is a pleasure to support you in your noble mission to protect all the citizens of this country. We believe that the future of security is in a highly trained police force that uses technology and science as its basis to build solid cases, and this is true for any country in the world.

We recognize that El Salvador has already had many achievements in improving security. The homicide rate has been reduced by 52% from 2015 to 2018, a trend that has continued this year, despite the recent increase. In addition, each category of violent crime has experienced a reduction in the same period.   I want to acknowledge the work and dedication of the National Civil Police, prosecutors, and many others who have contributed to this effort. At the same time, we join our voices to those who express their condolences and condemnation of the recent killings of police and military. We recognize them as heroes who work day after day trying to guarantee the safety of Salvadoran communities.

We know that there is still a lot of work to be done to make Salvadorans feel truly safe. This includes the development of new capacities to solve crimes and end impunity. These are goals that of all our countries share.

The agenda of this conference reflects current reality and the need to incorporate forensic science and technology into the research process and the crucial role that forensic evidence plays.

One of the cases that will be analyzed in greater depth during this conference is the massacre of 11 public workers that was committed in 2016. During the course of this investigation, the PNC’s crime investigation laboratory linked four separate crime scenes based on forensics through the combination of traditional ballistic tests, 3D images of bullets and casings recovered from crime scenes, and the use of a forensic database known as IBIS or “Integrated Ballistic Identification System”

In addition, the main shooter was identified by a fingerprint recovered from a discarded water bottle at one of the crime scenes.

The ballistic and fingerprint tests were used in the trial to prove the case and eventually resulted in the conviction of 9 criminals. The judge in the case sentenced the 9 accused to 390 years in prison, the longest criminal sentence in the history of El Salvador.

It is very likely that this case could not be resolved without the use of forensic science. That  is why the National Civil Police, with the assistance of the United States government and the Howard Buffett Foundation, is in the process of taking its forensic program to a new level.

I remember three years ago, the first meeting I had with Security Minister Landaverde and the Director of the National Civil Police, Coto in the living room of my house. We were chatting and I asked them if there was one thing that could change the game in the fight against crime, what would it be? Without hesitation, the answer was a forensic laboratory. From that same day we had that one goal together. In such a small country it is even harder to find witnesses. No one wants to face the gangs, especially when it is almost impossible to relocate families within the country. I have a basic philosophy. First we listen to our partners, then we work together on an action plan. What does it mean, to be partners? Reliable partners. Long-term partners that have shared interests in improving the security of all our countries.

The easy answer at the time was simply to say: “they are right, but …” And as we all know nothing good comes after that word “but”. Because after “but” come all the excuses and the reasons why we can not do what we should. That was the easy answer but that was not my answer.

I mobilized our team in the embassy towards this goal. I asked and challenged my team to find a way to put together this forensic lab.

This month, the PNC begins the construction of a cutting-edge criminal laboratory, valued at $25 million, which will include all traditional forensic disciplines. In addition, the crime lab will house a new forensic laboratory and a criminal DNA database.

DNA is the gold standard internationally when it comes to solving crimes, used successfully by prosecutors it has come to be considered as the basis of forensic investigation.

The PNC’s new DNA laboratory will have the capacity to process the DNA profiles of the more than 20,000 criminals who are arrested and registered annually in El Salvador, and a national DNA database will be built which will serve as a tool additional to link crime scenes, identify violent offenders and exonerate the innocent.

This conference is an opportunity to update this knowledge — which is one of the most valuable tools for your work — to share good practices, and to learn about new trends in the fight against crime. Criminal organizations are constantly finding new ways to evade the law. They are becoming more and more bold in committing their criminal activities and therefore you have to be equally innovative to find new ways to stop them.

Constant updating and an effective network of contacts are essential in order to be at the forefront. Take this moment to forge these alliances. You have all taken an oath: to defend the defenseless, to seek justice for the victims, to protect the fundamental values ​​on which we have built our nations. You have taken on a job that is often not recognized.

The basis of these efforts is to have an effective, modern legislation that responds to the new needs of the applicants of the law. We applaud the initiative of the Legislative Assembly for having developed a well-conceived proposal to ensure that the information they need can be collected, used and included in the criminal cases that Salvadorans want to see resolved. Moreover, this is the most solid bill proposal for DNA collection in all of Latin America and it can boost El Salvador as a regional leader in the region.

On behalf of the United States of America, I want to thank you for your commitment, your sacrifice and your selfless dedication. We know that the work you do is not easy. We know that you have the burden of accompanying people at the worst moment of their lives. We know that you carry the hope of innumerable victims whose cases you do not want to fall by the wayside. Initiatives like this conference, is one way we thank you for all that shouldering responsibility. We can not carry this burden for you, but we can provide you with the tools, the knowledge, skills and capabilities to help you be stronger so you can continue on this path.

Because in the end, we all share the same goal: to build safer, fairer countries, where all our citizens can fearlessly realize their life projects.

## This is a courtesy translation. Only the original Spanish version should be considered authoritative ##