The Guyana Forensic Science Laboratory (GFSL), through the support of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Ministry of Public Security, yesterday commissioned equipment designed at performing deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and gun residue tests with the aim of tackling crime and other issues here in Guyana.
The two pieces of equipment, a DNA Analysis Testing Machine and an Automated Gunshot Residue Analysis Machine, were supplied by an Italian firm Q&T S.p.A, at a cost of US$454,000 (Approx. G$98M).
At the GFSL building in Turkeyen, Public Security Minister, Khemraj Ramjattan, the Director of Operations at the IDB, Lorena Solozan, Director of the GFSL, Delon France and Project Manager of the Citizen Security Strengthening Programme (CSSP), Dr. Clement Henry commissioned the equipment with much enthusiasm.
The forensic lab will now be able to perform its own independent testing after some six years of having to work in the shadows of international agencies, and gunpowder residue tests will resume for cases that have been stalled for several months.
“At first, the possibilities did not seem capable, but now the resources have been provided. With the help of these agencies, we were able to overcome obstacles, and now we have the equipment and personnel to conduct DNA analysis and to resume gun residue tests. The lab is now a national pioneer for human identification, and it will enable us to conduct three main tests; DNA testing for comparison, paternity, and family mapping,” France expressed.
The DNA samples can be collected through swabbing of the cheeks, semen, vaginal, and collections of hair and blood.
The Director further added that with the future expansion of crimes, CSSP will commence provisions to establish a national DNA database which would require legal interventions through chapters of the law, especially the Police Act.
He added that while the lab is equipped with the latest and more advanced equipment in the field of forensics, “we should note that proper evidence collection is equally important to the outcome of results”. He says that training will be conducted with police officers on proper evidence collection.
As the only forensic lab in Guyana, France assured that they will continue growing to meet the diverse world of crime, not just nationally, but internationally, and he added that collaboration on international treaties will soon arise to combat crime.
Minister Ramjattan in his speech added that, “This is good news for the Guyanese people. Guyana’s history will now be remarkable, because we have moved away from the rudimentary methods in scientific detection to a truly systematic scientific mapping. Our police today will employ DNA, spectrographs, blood grouping, ballistic markets and so many other tools, and to identify that which we cannot see to analyse.”
The minister noted that the commissioning of the forensic equipment shows that the government is committed to improving the security of the country.
Meanwhile, Ramjattan related that, “there are a number of statistics that shows that we [the Government] are on the path to making the country safer,” and he stated that he is the only one who seems to believe such.
According to him “from all of the comparative statistics, we have seen that there has been a decline in crime, but decline does not mean disappearance– because the fact that these crimes appear on the front pages of the newspapers, there is a cognition level that there has been an increase. This is not such.”
The DNA machine can run eight samples all at once and the results can be provided in two hours, which would equate to an improved investigation closing rate. But, even better, this initiative will also save the Government significant sums of money, as sending DNA samples for testing overseas was very costly and timely.
Currently, there are four staff members who are academically and practically fit to conduct the forensic tests.
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