Critical Role of Forensic DNA Databases in Identifying Missing Persons in Thailand
Seminar & Roundtable Discussion | October 12, 2023
As per International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP), as many as 2,800 people have gone missing in Thailand since 2003 (not including those who were lost in the 2004 tsunami). The high incidence of missing persons reflects ongoing challenges in consolidating the institution and practices of a society ruled by law.
According to Mirror Foundation, more than 250 young people went missing last year, the highest in the last four years and 25% higher than in 2021. Activists for children's rights have renewed calls for changes to the missing persons practice, in which police wait for 24 hours after a disappearance before investigating. There is no law to deal with missing persons cases immediately after they are reported.
Human identification has made great strides since the advent of DNA typing. Forensic DNA typing provides unique genetic identifiers for different individuals and is applied to many important issues that confront society. Part of the success of DNA typing comes from the creation of DNA databases that help identify missing persons and develop investigative leads to assist law enforcement. DNA databases house not only the DNA profiles of criminals, but also unknown human remains and direct family reference samples of missing persons. With the right policy and systems in place, DNA technology can make a huge difference in the way Thailand tracks and reunites missing people with their families.
It is therefore an honor for GTH DNA to organize a roundtable discussion on the “Critical Role of DNA Databases in Finding Missing Persons” with the aim to make advanced DNA technologies like databases and decentralised rapid DNA analysis a part of Thailand’s missing persons master plan.
DNA forensics must be an important component of the master plan that sets out policies to be executed for timely tracking and locating of missing persons, including those who are anonymous, dead, or alive.
At the operational level, the planned ‘Tracking System for Missing Persons’ should outline forensic DNA tracking methods along with active utlization of the DNA database of missing persons, which will be made available to authorized agencies. The tracking system and database must also adhere to internationally recognized standards and function on the lines of a Missing Persons Clearinghouse that assists law enforcement agencies and the public in locating persons who are missing across the state/country.
SCAN AGENDA PDF