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Rwanda to upgrade its forensic centre

18th March 2012
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Rwanda’s Inspector General of Police Emmanuel Gasana has told security professionals from the East African Community (EAC) that Rwanda National Police was on course to complete a state-of-the-art forensic facility as part of its efforts to address investigation challenges.

He addressed the experts who were in the country mid this week to assess Rwanda’s potential to host the bloc’s referral forensic centre, meant to address criminal investigation challenges in the region.

The experts, led by Assistant Commissioner of Police, Didacus Kaguta Bazirakye, in charge of Peace and Security at the EAC Secretariat, also visited Rwanda’s forensic establishments and supporting amenities.

Their assessment visit has already covered all the other EAC partner states with only Tanzania and Uganda remaining.

The experts are expected to compile a report, which will be presented at the next fifth Sectoral Council on Inter-State Security and regional police chiefs meeting.

Once completed, the scheduled Rwanda multi-million dollar laboratory, to be located in the centre of Kigali, will offer about ten forensic disciplines, including DNA, toxicology and ballistics.

Toxicology is a test done on poison victims while ballistics tests involve arms and explosives.

The centre will set standards and quality assurance, including certifying forensic experts.

The forensic experts, who are visiting all the five member states, want to identify the country with the capacity and necessary requirements needed to host the multi-million dollar Regional Referral Forensic Centre (RRFC).

RFFC is an initiative of the Council of East African Police Chiefs meant to address challenges in investigations, strengthen forensic services and criminal justice department. Its role will be to ensure that EAC countries have harmonised forensic centres.

Criminal cases are time and again thrown out of court due to lack of proper forensic evidence to support them.

To be eligible to host RRFC, the country must have a national forensic centre attached to a certain institution, have regional responsibilities and staff, be able to sustain provisions in terms of national budget lines for recurrent expenses.

It should also be able to model its laboratory along the line of centres of excellence as prescribed under the “EAC Cooperation in Defence Affairs’ in the region or within the ‘African Peace and Security Framework.”

The centre will also be responsible for standards and quality assurance, certify forensic experts and accredit EAC states forensic laboratories.

It will also conduct forensic research and disseminate information to national forensic labs and train forensic practitioners.

Gasana observed that lack of enough equipment, capabilities and skills had forced countries to rely on outsourcing external expertise.

The government spends millions on such tests carried out abroad, most of them in Germany. The current forensic laboratory carries out limited tests which include fingerprints and document analysis.

“We need to integrate resources to ensure that the region is self-sustained without having to fly evidence abroad, which is expensive,” Gasana said.

Rwandan police introduced forensic science and criminology courses at the National Police University in Musanze, in the north of the country to equip its officers with skills in criminal investigations.

SOURCE: GUARDIAN ON SUNDAY
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