Legal and Forensic Medicine: A Sri Lankan Perspective
Sri Lanka is an island state located in the Indian Ocean, off the southern coast of the Indian subcontinent, of which the current legal system is a composite of Roman-Dutch law modified by English law. In the adversarial justice system of the country, legal and forensic medicine is practiced by designated Government Medical Officers who provide forensic pathology as well as clinical forensic medicine services. Government Medical Officers liaise closely with magistrates, Inquirers into Sudden Deaths, medical officers of other disciplines, investigating police officers, and other officials during their practice of legal and forensic medicine. The Government Analyst Department is the central government laboratory which assists in forensic investigations.
Since forensic medicine is a separate discipline in the medical undergraduate curriculum, medical undergraduates are exposed to theoretical and hands-on experience in forensic medicine before graduation. Undergraduates are evaluated by examinations including multiple-choice and short and long essay-type questions and by objective structured practical examination. Postgraduate education offers a Diploma in Legal Medicine and a Doctorate in Forensic Medicine leading to board certification as consultants in forensic medicine.
A variety of activities help legal medicine professionals with continuing professional development. Besides numerous ongoing research works, several research projects done in the past in legal and forensic medicine have contributed to the world forensic literature. The College of Forensic Pathologists of Sri Lanka and the Medico-Legal Society of Sri Lanka are the professional forums for discussion of legal and forensic medicine issues among the profession. The legal and forensic professionals are interlinked by a network of national committees, through which, they further contribute for a fair administration of justice.
KeywordsPolice Officer Medical Officer Forensic Medicine Continue Professional Development Legal Medicine
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