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Panama: ICITAP Delivers Webinar on Best Practices in Pathology and CSI During COVID-19

On May 12, ICITAP-Central America conducted a webinar on best practices in pathology and crime scene investigation (CSI) in the time of COVID-19 in Panama.  The webinar was conducted completely in Spanish and welcomed 99 participants of the legal medicine practice, judges, and prosecutors. The invitation to participate was delivered through the national training office of the Institute of Legal Medicine and Forensic Sciences (IMELCF) of Panama. Material was presented via PowerPoints and through verbal delivery with a special presentations facilitated by the Director General of IMELCF and by ICITAP-Central America’s Senior Forensic Advisor. The IMELCF Director General also discussed the concern of IMELCF’s ability to respond to requests from prosecutors and judges under present COVID-19 conditions where staffing and equipment is limited. ICITAP presented safety and security recommendations in handling crime scenes and personal protection equipment (PPE) by CSI personnel in the field, in their office facilities, and in the processing of evidence that may be contaminated with the COVID-19 virus. Webinar participants expressed concerns about the collection and preservation of evidence that might be contaminated, including the paperwork that gets completed as well as about documents themselves ending up with virus contamination. Many agencies at this time lack adequate PPE and materials for proper decontamination of offices, vehicles and material. An area where webinar participants may be able to make progress is in the adoption of modern technology for documentation of the crime scene and management of evidence. Use of laptops and 3D technology for crime scene documentation would not only facilitate the processing of documentation, but it could enable investigators and prosecutors to conduct crime scene review through virtual reality without making a physical entry and risk contamination or evidence tampering/destruction. In Central America, ICITAP works with the support of and in coordination with the State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL).

Updated August 11, 2023