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Insights into the 23rd IAFS

African Forensic Excellence: Perspectives from IAFS 2023 First hand insights by Mr Stephen Fonseca, Manager of the African Centre for Medicolegal Systems (ACMS) (pictured below in Sydney with Antonel Olckers, President of AFSA and Karolina Uwantege Kabayiza, Division Manager, Biology, RFI)

I'm currently at the International Association of Forensic Sciences (IAFS) triennial Conference in Sydney, Australia. While the presentations here are always incredible, my main aim this week was to highlight the existing African expertise within our growing community of professional practitioners on the continent.

Together with the Rwanda Forensic Institute (RFI) and African Forensic Sciences Academy (AFSA), we are here advocating for increased international awareness of African capabilities and presenting the vast opportunities for international organisations and respected forensic experts to contribute to capacity-building initiatives across Africa. Both the RFI and AFSA are present at an exhibition booth, situated in a prime location at the entrance to the exhibition centre, and it’s wonderful to see many of the over 1700 delegates at the conference paying a visit to the booth, sharing their experiences working in Africa, and showing their interest and passion to partner with African practitioners to improve forensic sciences.

I've also been in discussions with some prominent international forensic experts, impressing on them the need to offer Africans their chance to host the event in 2029. With the recent emergence of a formally registered international NGO, AFSA – representing all forensic science disciplines – and combined with rapidly expanding African forensic communities, Africa has positioned itself well to make such a request and lobby for support to host the Conference on African soil for the first time since IAFS’s inception in 1958. It is inspiring to see how far Africa has developed in such a short interval and whilst still dealing with massive obstacles. Our collective goal as the African community must be to utilise every avenue and event, such as the IAFS Conference this week, to showcase what Africa has already achieved and how we intend to become leaders in the international forensic community towards improved forensic sciences delivery and professional practice.


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