Israel PalestineReport

In Ramallah, the fingerprint processing unit

Fingerprint comparison (© JB / B2)
Manual fingerprint comparison (© JB / B2)

(BRUSSELS2 in Ramallah) The premises seem a little 'dated': a few desks, old computers... It doesn't feel like a high-tech place. The team is not very large: 25 agents spread across the 11 districts that make up the West Bank. And a lot of the work is still done by hand... But don't be fooled. The work done here is quite effective. And the Palestinian Sherlock Holmes have nothing to be ashamed of for their results…

Going beyond confession as absolute proof

The fingerprint method is a small mental revolution in Palestine. “Before, the confession obtained was 'the' proof par excellence” explains Saïd Issa, the head of this unit whom we meet in these offices. Today, “several people who have been falsely accused have been released. And the real culprits could be arrested.. 

Recognize the legal quality of fingerprints

Criminal evidence, coming from the collection of prints, has not always been well received in the courts. It was regularly called into question by the judges. “We realized that we needed a legal framework for our work,” says Said Issa. « We looked for a model and we got closer to the German model ". It was necessary to codify a method so that “the legality of our work” be recognised. Fingerprint experts are now recognized by the courts. Seven of them took the oath and received the paper from the Ministry of Justice, bearing the official stamp which allows them to “ testify in court".

The 'criminal fingerprint record'

“After discussions with the Ministry of the Interior, we set up the criminal fingerprint record”. It is the ministry which is responsible for recording (the fingerprint) and processing the files. This database, set up in 2012, now includes “nearly 50.000 fingerprints are now recorded” and identified.

Imprints are looking for owners, make an offer

This file has made it possible to concretely solve " many files. And others could be even more so in the future. There remain, in fact, still 100.000 fingerprints from files, the owner of which is still unknown. But, little by little, the Palestinian police sleuths intend to unmask who is hiding behind these suspicious prints.

A very young unit that has its future ahead of it

The special fingerprint processing unit is recent. It was only created within the Palestinian civil police in 2012, barely 4 years ago. A unit equipped and trained largely by the German government and supported by the Europeans from the EUPOL COPPS mission. The objective today is to strengthen it: to increase its equipment as well as to have a greater presence in the 11 districts that make up the West Bank.

(Johanna Bouquet, in Ramallah)

B2 Writing

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