Efforts are underway to equip the Guyana Forensic Science Laboratory and train staff there to conduct DNA (Deoxyribonucleic acid) testing by 2018, according to Minister of Public Security, Khemraj Ramjattan.
As part of the lab’s qualification and certification process, it has to be fully equipped and the staff have to be qualified to conduct DNA tests which are internationally recognised.
“DNA is the highest grade of investigation at the forensic level and the chemicals, the procedures in a DNA lab are very high quality; you do not want interfaces with the samples and the integrity of the items. You have to have very strong structures and we are now training the forensic lab technicians for all of that. Then you have to have the equipment and we don’t have that yet,” Ramjattan was quoted by the Government Information Agency as telling the media.
The Public Security Minister said said that the sponsors of that equipment want to be assured that the lab’s personnel are properly trained, and all other systems are in place before the equipment could be made available.
“That is very important because you can have all of that coming in and it takes one good lawyer to demolish a case presented in court and then no juror ever believes that that DNA sample testing is proper…so I want to go cautiously to ensure everything is in place, the air conditioning unit, the refrigeration units and all of that before we proceed,” Minister Ramjattan said.
The forensic laboratory is currently equipped to conduct testing including on currencies, forged documents, and ballistics, Minister Ramjattan said.
Under the second component of the Ministry of Public Security’s Citizen Security Strengthening Programme (CSSP), there are provisions for improving the Guyana Police Force’s (GPF) Forensic Laboratory’s effectiveness towards preventing and conducting crime investigations. This component is being funded at the cost of US$5.5M through the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).
Apart from the procurement of equipment for the laboratory, the CSSP will facilitate local and overseas training, and training materials for laboratory staff and the GPF, in terms of crime investigation and evidence collection.