The International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program (ICITAP) has its origins in Latin America. In 1986, ICITAP was created with funding from the U.S. State Department to build capacity to prosecute key human rights cases in El Salvador and to enhance the criminal investigative capacity of police forces in Latin America. Since then, ICITAP has delivered training in every country in Central America, more than half of the countries in South America, and nearly all of the Caribbean.
Today, ICITAP’s Western Hemisphere programs focus on criminal justice reform, anticorruption, forensic science, human rights, transnational crime, and advanced investigative skills. ICITAP is a key partner in major U.S. assistance efforts in the region—the Merida Initiative in Mexico and the Central America Regional Security Initiative (CARSI)—funded by the State Department‘s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs.
Learn more about ICITAP's programs in this region (*indicates field office):
In support of the Central America Regional Security Initiative (CARSI), ICITAP’s program office in Panama provides regional oversight of ICITAP’s Central America capacity-building components that include forensics, criminal investigations, academy development, and police reform. The regional program is operating in Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Panama.
Founded in 1991, Colombia is ICITAP's longest-standing program. Beginning in 2002, ICITAP greatly expanded its assistance through the Justice Department's Plan Colombia Justice Sector Reform Program (JSRP)—a strong collaboration among numerous Department entities. In particular, ICITAP and the Office of Prosecutorial Development, Assistance and Training (OPDAT) have helped Colombia transition to an adversarial system of justice and significantly reduce crime and violence. ICITAP has also assisted with the identification of victims and recovery of evidence from mass graves to expedite the prosecution of members of paramilitary groups who were responsible for mass murders, and worked to significantly increase crime scene processing and forensic laboratory capacity. In January 2020, ICITAP began a project to strengthen the Colombian Attorney General’s Office Pre-accord Human Rights Investigations.
In 2015, ICITAP launched a police reform and professionalization program. Delivered in partnership with USAID, the program is aimed at strengthening internal and external oversight mechanisms, modernizing human resources capabilities, improving criminal justice coordination, and improving community relations.
As part of the Merida Initiative, ICITAP is providing forensic assistance to the Mexican Attorney General’s Office and the National Police forensic laboratories, focusing on helping them obtain international accreditation. Discipline specific training and technical assistance is being provided in DNA, questioned documents, toxicology, crime scene processing, drug analysis, firearms, and latent print examinations.
Selected Past Programs
In 2013, ICITAP launched a police professionalization program throughout the seven Eastern Caribbean island nations. These nations joined together to promote security solutions through the treaty-based Regional Security System (RSS) located in Barbados.
From 2013 to 2014, under the Partnership for Growth Program, a presidential initiative to support economic development, ICITAP assisted the government of El Salvador to combat security matters that negatively impact its economic growth. In coordination with OPDAT, ICITAP helped establish and develop prosecutor/investigator task forces to combat crimes against public transit and crimes against businesses.
From 2009 to 2012, ICITAP worked with the Paraguay National Police to enhance professional development, improve forensic laboratory capabilities, and augment the 911 communications system. ICITAP helped create a police selection manual and developed curriculum at the police academy. ICITAP also provided technical assistance to the internal affairs unit and internal audit office.
From 2008 to 2011, ICITAP worked on a program to combat corruption in the Peruvian National Police. ICITAP assisted the police to review and revise administrative practices, improve case management, develop public information and outreach strategies, and design specialized investigative units.