What to do to Identify Victims

Major catastrophes such as terrorist attacks or multiple traffic accidents are responsible for taking the lives of a considerable group of citizens .

The identification work carried out by the Modern State to identify the features or physiognomy and identity of each of the fatal victims of these events is especially arduous. However, this activity is essential as it implies a moral and social commitment to the family members or those closest to the people who lost their lives in such an event.

The members of the Ministry of Justice in Spain, thinking about the situation of uncertainty and desperation in which the relatives or friends of the victims are plunged , have chosen to make available in their digital corner a small identification guide for the victims to that they take into account what are the requirements and ways of acting on the part of the State and its various organizations when it comes to finding, among a sea of ​​deceased people without identity, those who are part of their family.

We also want to realize the important role that these relatives or close friends will have in this work of investigation and identification of the victims. What you need to know is that they will be asked for documentation, participation and certain personal data, something that may involve a significant emotional effort for them . However, your involvement is fundamental and represents the hope that the mortal remains of your friend or family member can be found.

Below are the ways to act in this regard :

-Identification is based on comparing the data and documents requested from loved ones ( known as ante-mortem data) with those provided by forensic doctors and police identification teams that they obtain from the deceased (post-mortem data).

-There is help from close friends or family members , who must provide detailed information about the victim , including a description of their most striking or most significant physical features, dental records, etc.

-These identification systems are based on the meticulous and detailed study of fingerprints , dental comparison , physical data of the person, surgical history, particular signs or study of DNA profiles . If identification has not been achieved with the first tests and studies mentioned, then one of the last possible alternatives is to obtain DNA profiles.

For this study, if necessary, close blood relatives such as parents and children, siblings or spouse are specified as suitable people. The collection is carried out by qualified personnel at the Family Assistance Center at the time the victim’s personal data is provided.

-The duration of this entire process depends on the severity of the case in question, the state of the bodies, the place or space where such an event occurred or the ante-mortem data available. Therefore, the investigation can last several hours or extend for weeks or months.

It is possible that the victims will not be identified due to the lack of sufficient data or any other reason, in which case the victims’ relatives or friends should be kept informed.

-The data requested from family members that will be collected from a series of interviews are of various types:

1) Affiliation data regarding the documentation carried at that time, whether it was a DNI, driving license or any other,

2) A detailed description of your clothing and footwear ,

3) Carefully account for personal effects , whether watches, bracelets, glasses, rings, piercings, etc.

4) Physical description, that is, especially taking into account the possible presence of scars, moles, amputations, tattoos.

5) All necessary medical information such as operations, bone fractures, medical treatments. In these cases, it will be necessary to provide, if available, medical reports, x-rays, etc.

6) Finally, dental data , with dental reports and x-rays.

All this data provided by the victims’ relatives will be compiled in a series of forms prepared for this purpose.

For more information regarding what this group of people must do to collaborate in the identification of the victims, all the contents and basic documentation are referred to in detail and in 8 different languages ​​(Spanish, English, Catalan, Basque, Galician, French, Valencian, among others) in the Guide for Identification of Victims that the Ministry of Justice makes available to users to download free of charge on its page hosted on the Internet.

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