EFIC Foundation is eager to share its experience and expertise through a unique and innovative programme, called: “Forensic Watch”, which unlike scientific projects for forensic practitioners, engages the citizens in the very specialised area of forensic science.
The programme, carried out since September 2014, deals with the competences of forensic experts in the context of the forthcoming change into the Polish Penal Code, dated on 1st of July 2015. The novelization of the legal system in Poland foresees a shift from inquisitorial towards a more adversarial model of court proceedings, which itself shall be perceived as a revolutionary change. The new system will involve more use of forensic science evidence and, by doing so it will open the market for the private forensic services providers, whose competencies and knowledge without any market regulations can put at risk the fairness and smoothness of court proceedings. Undoubtedly, it will affect not only the judges, prosecutors, barristers and forensic experts but also it is going to have an impact on the citizens, who, when not fully aware of their rights, and if confronted with criminal justice system, can feel lost at certain point.
The abovementioned triggered the “Forensic Watch” programme, which is related to making the citizens aware of the possibilities and limitations related to forensic science examinations. Apart from that, the “Forensic Watch” invites citizens to participate in the process of monitoring and controlling the services by forensic experts, by assessing their competencies and ranking their performance. This approach makes the “Forensic Watch” programme unique and innovative.
FORENSIC WATCH I – Scrutinizing forensic competence
This is a nationwide project devoted to public scrutiny over court-appointed experts hired by courts, in the context of the revised criminal procedure, which gives parties extended rights to produce and present evidence in court. This project has developed a concept of an up-to-date tool for an unbiased assessment of experts' qualifications and for monitoring the quality of their services. This concept has been already presented at a conference on watchdog activities over the court appointed forensic experts. Finally, the project will publish a final report presenting the recommendations on implementing and the wide use of the new tool. The aim of the project is to inspire the watchdog activities performed in the area of forensics, but also to assist parties of criminal proceedings in their selection of forensic experts and court presidents in their effort to draw up lists of forensic experts to serve during court trials on a regular basis. Quality of the project's research will be assured by the partnership with the Centre for Forensic Science of the University of Warsaw.
FORENSIC WATCH II – Building civic awareness
This nationwide project covers two parts. The aim of the first part is to implement into practice the public scrutiny of the activities performed by expert witnesses during court trials, in the context of recent amendments in the code of criminal proceedings, giving equal evidence opportunities to both parties of criminal proceedings. The second part includes various activities to inform general public on the new rules of criminal proceedings and the significance of scientific evidence, as well as lobbying activities for implementing the parliamentary regulations over the forensic science market. As a result of the project, we plan to prepare a report describing the practice of using scientific evidence in adversarial court processes. In addition, we will create an Internet portal open for the active participation of citizens and concerning various issues related to expert witnesses. The project is implemented in partnership with the Court Watch Poland Foundation and the Centre for Forensic Science of the University of Warsaw.
FORENSIC WATCH III – Supporting wrongly convicted
It is a nationwide project covering the miscarriages of justice caused by wrong delivery of forensic science and invalid scientific evidence. As part of the project, we are going to enlist court cases in Poland, which over the last 25 years, resulted in a wrong sentence due to an improper forensic examinations and invalid scientific evidence. We truly believe that the analysis of such cases shall enable us to create a series of recommendations aiming at the prevention of miscarriages of justice based on invalid scientific evidence in Poland. In such a way our undertakings aim at increasing the confidence of the Polish citizens in the justice system. Within this project we are going to cooperate with the recognised foreign bodies whose vast experience in the abovementioned area can guarantee the success of our action.
THE FORENSIC WATCH PROJECTS ARE CO-FINANCED FROM EUROPEAN ECONOMIC AREA (EEA) GRANTS UNDER
"CITIZENS FOR DEMOCRACY" PROGRAMME COORDINATED BY STEFAN BATORY FOUNDATION AND POLSKA FUNDACJA DZIECI I MŁODZIEŻY