Back to All Events

The Scientific Search for the Disappeared: International Experiences

  • Campbell Conference Facility 1 Devonshire Place Toronto, ON (map)

Date: Wednesday, June 10
Time: 4:00pm – 6:00pm
Location: Vivian and David Campbell Conference Facility, Munk School of Global Affairs, South House, 1 Devonshire Place, Toronto, ON M5S 3K7

Title: The Scientific Search for the Disappeared: International Experiences

The application of Forensic Sciences to the investigation of cases of political/ethnic/religious violence involving the disappearances and killings of persons began in Argentina in 1984, and since then the practice has spread to nearly 40 countries around the world, meeting with various degrees of success.

After more than 30 years of such investigations in the Balkans, Latin America (mainly in Argentina, Guatemala, Colombia, Peru and Chile), Africa and Asia, the concrete practice has shown that these kinds of cases are quite different from the ordinary criminal and mass disasters investigations.

There is a need to investigate these cases, and similarly those related to Migrants or Indigenous people targeted in different parts of the world, in a multidisciplinary way. Experience has shown the complexity of the process, where bodies usually are hidden, and that there is a lack of co-operation on the part of both the authorities and the perpetrators.

This presentation will comment on concrete experiences from the field, leading with some of the issues mentioned above.

Speaker: Dr. Luis Fondebrider heads the EAAF (Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team) 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 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 military government that ruled from 1976-1983. Today, the team works in Latin America, Africa, Asia and Europe.


Bill Graham Centre for Contemporary International History
The Globe and Mail