For the first time in Iraq: Medico-Legal Directorate Forensic DNA Laboratory Works to Obtain ISO/IEC 17025 Accreditation

For the first time in Iraq:

Medico-Legal Directorate Forensic DNA Laboratory Works to Obtain ISO/IEC 17025 Accreditation


Baghdad, 26 October 2023 – The Iraqi Medico-Legal Directorate (MLD) Forensic DNA Laboratory in Baghdad, with support from the United Nations Investigative Team to Promote Accountability for Crimes Committed by Da’esh/ISIL (UNITAD), embarked on a two-year project "Pathway to ISO/IEC 17025 accreditation."

This project is expected to lead MLD’s forensic DNA lab to be Iraq’s first to obtain the ISO/IEC 17025 accreditation, furthering international recognition of MLD’s remarkable endeavors. This accreditation is key for compliance with this international quality standard and crucial for criminal justice processes, which use the results obtained by forensic testing laboratories.

The project was inaugurated in September with a comprehensive evaluation (Gap Analysis) of all the laboratory elements that contribute to producing accurate and reliable data, performed by BODE Technology, a prominent specialized forensic DNA laboratory. Chosen by MLD forensic DNA lab and UNITAD’s Forensic Science Unit, BODE provided analysis of MLD’s forensic DNA lab and evaluated its preparedness for international accreditation. It also identified quality management gaps and addressed training needs for forensic experts. The Gap Analysis results will guide the MLD project's upcoming phases, supported by UNITAD.

Marking the inauguration of this project, Special Adviser and Head of UNITAD Christian Ritscher indicated that: “This initiative serves as a testament to the unwavering partnership between UNITAD and MLD, as we collectively endeavor to strengthen national capacities and support justice processes for ISIL international crimes in Iraq." He added: “UNITAD’s forensic experts will continue to provide full support to this process which will showcase the MLD lab’s unparalleled competence, impartiality, and consistent operations that align with internationally recognized standards.”

On his part, Dr. Zaid Ali Abbas, Director General of the Medico-Legal Directorate stated: "With this project, we embark on an important journey to strengthen our work in the field of forensics and to give certainty to the people of Iraq in our commitment to scientific excellence and community service. We welcome our intensive partnership with UNITAD to achieve accountability for crimes committed by Daesh and strengthen the capacity of the Medico-Legal Directorate to identify victims of these crimes."

In addition, Mike Cariola, CEO of BODE Technology affirmed the importance of the project, stating “The MLD, with UNITAD support, is committed to quality and through this assessment, a roadmap now exists to lead the MLD towards international accreditation. We are proud to have participated and look forward to seeing them achieve their goals.”

The project to achieve ISO/IEC 17025 is funded by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs (NEA/AC). It will offer MLD Forensic DNA Laboratory a chance to enhance result reliability, facilitate traceability of measurements and calibrations to optimum standards, establish technical competency of national staff, maintain a record of test equipment, ensure the accuracy of test results, validate and correct test and calibration methods and reduce unnecessary costs. The completion of this project will foster efforts towards accountability for ISIL international crimes in Iraq through further analysis of forensic evidence and ensuring the admissibility of this evidence before competent courts. It will also accelerate accurate processes of identification of exhumed remains of victims of ISIL’s horrific crimes, offering some solace to their bereaved families.