As part of the agreement, the National Institute of Forensic Medicine and Forensic Medicine offered free fees to Portuguese Angolan forensic doctors, said Aurélio Ngueve, who said that a second cycle of training was already planned, which had not yet started due to various restrictions, the most important being the Covid-19 pandemic. Portugal has been responsible for the increase in the number of Angolan forensic doctors, who have so far trained 16 specialists in a postgraduate course in forensic and forensic medicine that took place from 2008 to 2012 under an agreement between the Ministry of the Interior and the European country`s National Institute of Forensic and Forensic Medicine. What is the daily average of autopsies and body examinations performed in the country? On average, between 145 and 150 forensic tests are performed daily. It is important to say that of this average, about 40% are forensic cadaver scientists. Luanda is the province that carries out 60 to 70% of all forensic activities. As an aid to the criminal justice system, has forensic science in the country been a crucial factor in seeking a just sentence based on the truth of the facts? No doubt about it. Here, the approach emphasizes the noblest mission of forensic medicine, its great value, with the achievement of expertise in the different areas of law and not only criminal law. It should be emphasized that forensic medicine aims to satisfy the interests of the judiciary impartially, much more than special interests. His task is to help form the judge`s conviction, that is, to enlighten his conscience. Why is forensic medicine, which used to be part of the Central Crime Laboratory (LCC), now autonomous? It is autonomous because of the specificity and scope of its expert services. Still with regard to the autonomy of forensic medicine with its evolution towards national leadership, what was the basis for becoming independent of the Central Forensic Laboratory? It has simply evolved. And we believe that will be the way.
I would like to remind you that the Directorate of Forensic Medicine and the Central Forensic Laboratory (LCC) are central executive bodies of the Criminal Police Service (SIC), but each with specific missions, the exercise of expertise and objections to the presentation of different technical-scientific evidence. They are specifically different in nature. Can this autonomy not lead to distortions in the concept of forensic science or even to misalignment, for example in the production of expert testimony, and can there even be a certain acquisition of skills? Not at all. We need to look at a little bit of other stops. Comparing is not negative at all. Forensic pathology is a major area of knowledge that, in addition to its work in the assessment of bodily injury, also provides expertise in tanatology. It is clear that the laboratory component is essential, if not decisive, in determining not only the accidental link, but also the medico-legal diagnosis or the medico-legal differential diagnosis. I am talking about forensic anatomy, forensic histology, forensic genetics, forensic chemistry, forensic toxicology, forensic imaging, etc., etc. In Angola, in the light of the law, is it possible for a family member who has been the victim of murder to need an independent and preferably foreign expert to challenge the outcome of the expert`s work? Possible. Yes, yes, yes, yes, but in the light of laws such as the Angolan Penal Code and the Code of Criminal Procedure, which regulate forensic activity in the form of the organization of forensic medicine in Angola, it is the prerogative, or rather the exclusive competence, of the Public Prosecutor`s Office to deal with or decide on these matters. However, what has rarely happened is the request for expertise and, under this condition, its implementation must be collegial, with the exclusion (exclusion) of the expert in relation to the specific case.
As for the participation of independent, foreign experts, this has never occurred in our practice. Since the increase in the rate of violent crime in the country, especially in urban areas, are coroners responsible for performing forensic autopsies and body examinations of crimes? Obvious. The increase in crime undoubtedly has a direct impact on the workload of specialists in all forensic activities. In Angola, do you pay for autopsies and other forensic analysis, such as external examination of a corpse, exumation and collection of biological material? I ask you this question, knowing full well that services are billed in Portugal. Medical and legal services are not charged by the Criminal Investigation Department. These tasks are part of their missions as criminal investigation and technical and scientific support body. A look at the organic structure of the Ministry of the Interior. The SIC is an executive body of the Ministry of the Interior and Forensic Medicine, the central executive body of the SIC. What is happening in Portugal, yes, there, the model of forensic organization is different. Forensic medicine is represented by an autonomous institute protected or supervised by the Ministry of Justice and subject to the relevant legal provisions. It cooperates with the criminal police. It was within the framework of autonomy that the recovery of expert fees was governed.
What forensic pathologists can charge individually or privately are embalming actions or other services outside of the standard CIS services. I am thinking, for example, of counselling and teaching. In these cases, we are talking about charging fees within the framework of the ethical principles established in the legal provisions of the College of Physicians of Angola. Has the jargon that “corpses talk” when investigating suspicious deaths, a metaphorical way of saying that they “answer” all the coroner`s questions about the cause of death, made a lot of sense in your professional career? A lot. Over time, a lot of experience accumulates and it becomes easier and easier to “talk” to corpses. Without exaggeration, corpses “speak”. The conversation we are talking about is a “silent conversation” in which corpses “inform” what happened to them. For example, drowning, trampling, hanging, physical assault, among others. The coroner is responsible for making the differential forensic diagnosis (murder, suicide or accident) in support of justice. For example, hanging can be practiced from the point of view of the legal nature of death: murder, suicide or accident.
In 20 years in the service of forensic medicine, if you have a photographic memory, can you tell us the number of dead who have already “spoken” to you? While I`m not entirely sure, I think the number is over 20,000. But they are not just murder victims. In the context of establishing the forensic differential diagnosis, it is referred to as homicide, suicide or accident. Are there already concrete steps for the establishment of an institute of forensic medicine in the country? Yes I did it. In that sense, we have worked hard. This is a complex process, as the quantity and quality of human resources play an important role, along with other necessary assumptions and conditions, including legal and legislative issues. In fact, it is the greatest dream of all Angolan forensic doctors, and not only in the exercise of the profession on the national territory. We continue to work and believe that with the institutional support of our supervisory authority, the PGR, the Angolan Medical Association, through the College of Specialty of Forensic Medicine, the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights and other bodies involved in the national judicial system, as well as with the support of institutions such as the Portuguese-speaking Forensic and Forensic Network and the National Institute of Forensic Medicine of the Portugal, We will be able to achieve this goal, which will undoubtedly be an asset for forensic experts and technicians in particular and for the country in general. There will, of course, be many benefits for everyone.
This would indeed be the starting point for the transfer of the training process of personnel from abroad to our country. Will the supervision of an institute, if it is established in Angola, continue to be the Criminal Police Service? It can, yes, continue under the direction of the SIC, respecting the model of organization of services in our country.