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Lao’s First Digital Forensics Lab Opens

Source: Asia News

The country’s first digital forensics laboratory opened on Friday at the General Police Department of the Ministry of Public Security.

The opening ceremony was attended by members of the police force and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime’s (UNODC) Global Programme on Cybercrime.Deputy Director General of the General Police Department, Police Colonel Dr Phengsavanh Thiphavongxay, UNODC Cybercrime and Cryptocurrencies Advisor for Southeast Asia and Pacific, Mr Alexandru Caciuloiu, and Deputy Head of Mission/Counsellor, Norwegian Embassy in Hanoi, Mr Jan Wilhelm Grythe, cut a ribbon to open the facility.

UNODC collaborated closely with the police force in setting up the facility, funded by the Government of Norway. The lab will specialise in the analysis of digital evidence collected, or resulting from, criminal investigations including transnational organised crime, cybercrime, and wildlife crime.

It is equipped with cutting-edge technology for the identification, extraction and analysis of digital evidence.

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The facility will enable investigators to ensure the overall integrity and reliability of digital evidence while maintaining a proper chain-of-custody. Investigators are now able to identify, transport, recover, analyse and preserve digital evidence resulting from criminal cases and present this evidence in court.

This new capability will drive Laos’ criminal justice process forward, strengthening the rule of law in the country.

UNODC has spent the past two years training and mentoring specialist local police personnel to deal with the technical and legal challenges posed by new technologies and devices. 

Additionally, UNODC has equipped the police force with standard operating procedures for handling digital evidence and established forensically-sound processes up until its presentation in court. 

“The establishment of a specialised lab to analyse digital evidence obtained by the police force, the first of its kind in the country, is a major step forward for the criminal justice authorities, as well as for Lao society as a whole,” Mr Caciuloiu said.

He added that citizens would benefit from a criminal justice system that operated according to the latest international standards and made use of the latest technologies to ensure that justice is served fairly and transparently. 

This would take Laos one step further to achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 16 on providing access to justice for all and building effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.  

Police now have the capability to analyse digital media relating to over 2,000 criminal cases a year. 

“Due to the recent increase in cybercrime, which threatens the stability, security and peace of countries in the region and across the globe, there is a need for continuous efforts and improvements in all areas of capacity building and in the utilisation of advanced technology in combatting, investigating and prosecuting criminal activities,” Police Colonel Dr Phengsavanh said.