The 82nd Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2013)

Human Rights in Colombia and the Creation of EQUITAS, an Independent Organization for the Support of Victims


Forensic, Colombian Interdisciplinary Team on Forensic Work and Psychosocial Assistance

Saturday Morning, 301D Add to calendar

Throughout her professional career, Dr. Karen Ramey Burns was deeply committed to science and human rights. This approach to her work as a physical and forensic anthropologist, took her to several countries all over the world where she helped to strengthen the skills of local researchers for improved and more responsible scientific work.

In early 2000, two Colombian forensic anthropologists interested in forming an independent forensic organization in Colombia (South America) contacted Dr. Burns to be part of the project. The goal of the project was to provide forensic expertise to victims resulted of a serious internal armed conflict. Many regions of the country have experienced blatant human rights violations such as torture, mass killings, forced disappearances, and extrajudicial executions.

Dr. Burns accepted the invitation to be part of the project. Through her expertise, she emphasized the importance of a scientific system of review and repeatability in the context of judicial investigations. She additionally stressed the need for a victim-centered scientific approach, especially in cases involving crimes related to human rights abuses.

Dr. Burns became a founding member of the Colombian Interdisciplinary Team on Forensic Work and Psychosocial Assistance, a non-governmental forensic team that provides independent scientific contributions and psychosocial assistance to families of victims of crimes committed in the context of serious, mass or systematic human rights violations and violations to international humanitarian law.

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