EPAF team with Clyde C. Snow, 2012

The core that gave rise to the Peruvian Forensic Anthropology Team (EPAF) was composed by Jose Pablo Baraybar, Juan Carlos Tello, Aldo Bolaños, Carmen Rosa Cardoza and other young professionals, who in the late 1990s shared the concern to disseminate the standards and norms of forensic investigation internationally accepted.

Under the auspices of the prestigious American scientist Clyde C. Snow -father of forensic anthropology- most of EPAF’s founding core began to develop researches for the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY). Soon after, the experience acquired by the core in Kosovo, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia began to be applied to Peru, through the auspices of the National Human Rights Coordinator (CNDDHH).

The creation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) made clear the need for an independent forensic team to represent the Peruvian civil society in research on the internal armed conflict; this led to the founding of EPAF as a civil non-profit association, on February 19th, 2001.

The collaboration between the EPAF and TRC had good results, as the first scientific exhumation of mass graves in Peru, held in the community of Chuschi, Ayacucho, in January 2002, and the drafting of what would the National Plan for Forensic Anthropological Research (PNIAF). However, serious discrepancies between the TRC and EPAF and led to the rupture between the two institutions in May-June 2002.

In the years after the TRC, EPAF developed what would become his new institutional paradigm for forensic investigations, according to which:

1. In a context such as Peru, search, identification and return of remains of missing persons can not be subordinated to legal deadlines, making it urgent to prioritize humanitarian research;

2. In a context such as Peru, search, identification and return of missing persons should be governed by a comprehensive strategy and National Plan for the Search for Disappeared Persons (PNBPD).

3. In a context such as Peru, forensic investigation can not be detached from the work of human development with the families and communities of the victims of serious human rights violations as a form of reparation and as a guarantee of non-repetition.

By going to expand its range, EPAF based on these ideas, the cooperation model “South-South”, which also involves the transfer of knowledge, experience and technology in the global South to the global South, reducing dependency from external financing.