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Year : 2020  |  Volume : 5  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 38-42

Human identification and human rights through humanitarian forensic odontology

1 Department of Public Health Sciences and Pediatrics, Section of Legal Medicine, University of Turin, Turin, Italy
2 Department of Medical and Surgical Sciences, Section of Legal Medicine, University of Magna Graecia, Catanzaro, Italy

Correspondence Address:
Prof. Emilio Nuzzolese
Department of Public Health Sciences and Pediatrics, Section of Legal Medicine, University of Turin, Turin
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ijfo.ijfo_5_20

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The ethical relationship between human identification and dead bodies lies in the question of whether the dead, like living individuals, have human rights. Only a name and an identity will allow their religious beliefs to be respected and allow the next of kin to complete the grieving process. Experts in forensic odontology and disaster-victim identification have intimate material contact with bones, teeth, jaws, and other tissue of the deceased, but their work can also lead to the best practice in human identification from humanitarian forensic odontology (HFO) perspective. HFO is the application of pro bono services and consultations in that forensic casework where dental evidence is involved and forensic odontology could be pivotal in criminal investigations, especially in the field of human identification. For this reason, the inclusion of forensic odontology in the human identification process must be methodological, becoming a proper specialization of dentistry and forensic sciences. The dead have the right to have a name and an identity. In the authors' opinion, the failure to perform a dental autopsy for the purpose of human identification of unidentified human remains can be considered a violation of the human rights of the dead.

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