The National Forensic Laboratory at Turkeyen, East Coast Demerara is still not functioning to its full capacity after being commissioned close to two years ago. This was confirmed by Minister of Public Security Khemraj Ramjattan.
During an interview with Newsroom at the weekend, Minister Ramjattan said the staff of the facility is not fully qualified to do the work. Added to that, he highlighted other measures that have to be put in place to ensure that the evidence to be kept at the facility remains of highest standard.
“You do not want to start not getting the quality of evidence in the lab…because defense council will give you trouble and you’re going to lose the case. They will ask about the temperature in the department; is it good enough? Because all of that helps in keeping these specimens and such together to the extent that it can prove your case. I don’t think even that has been reached because right now, the arrangements for the offices and the temperature that got to keep these specimens; those regulated temperatures have not been done” Ramjattan said.
He said the works are expected to cost a huge amount of money but also stated that it is necessary at this point.
The minister explained that at the moment the lab is unable to tests fluids, specimens and perform other functions consistent with a lab of its kind. It currently deals with determining the authenticity of documents, look into fraud cases and utilise the services of its hand writing experts.
He said “we have a problem there, the problem being that a lot of the training did not qualify them (the staff) to reach what I regard as the Ph.D status, they’ve reached the Bachelors and the Masters as it were but the equivalent, highest ratings that you have to past before you can get to do all of these other things that is going to mean much to the court is very important.”
He said that to this end, the Government of Guyana through the Guyana Police Force has since facilitated the training of personnel from the lab to receive the requisite training that will see the lab fulfilling its mandate.
“We have sent Mr. De France overseas…in connection with further developments into what we have to do to get that to the status to become the forensic lab of quality before we can get that into operationalising DNA testing and things like that and the very high category of testing.”
The National Forensic Lab was commissioned in July 2014 by then Head of Presidential Secretariat Dr. Roger Luncheon and Minister of Home Affairs Clement Rohee at cost of $450 Million Guyana Dollars and received funding from the Inter American Development Bank.