Local DNA testing by the end of 2019

– equipment slated to arrive soon

DPI, Guyana, Tuesday, March 5, 2019

It has been confirmed that by the end of 2019, local deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) testing will be conducted at the Guyana Forensic Science Laboratory. Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan gave this assurance.

The DNA testing falls under Component Two of the Citizen Security Strengthening Programme (CSSP) of the Ministry of Public Security. Minister Ramjattan highlighted that there had been some hiccups with getting the DNA testing equipment shipped to Guyana from the Italian firm Q&T S.p.A. However, he assured that the equipment, which costs approximately $107B ($US513,000), will be here soon.

“The contract was awarded to an Italian firm, and that firm is supposed to be making the arrangements to ship the equipment to us… it should have been here… but it is going to come this year” the minister explained.

In fact, Project Manager of the CSSP, Clement Henry, during an interview with the Department of Public Information (DPI), relayed that last week, a meeting and a tour of the laboratory was conducted with a representative from the firm. The Italian firm according to Henry, will be conducting additional training with the laboratory technicians and installing the equipment, which comes with a five-year warranty.

Henry pointed out that all the prerequisites to facilitate DNA are either complete or almost completed. This includes security systems, air quality and electrical works which must all meet international standards.

When the construction of the lab was first made known, it was assumed that DNA testing would have been given priority, particularly since the country has been spending large sums of money to send samples to overseas labs. However, that was not so.

The current government in its quest to improve the forensic ability of the Guyana Police Force and law enforcement has since taken all necessary steps to bring the lab up to international standards with the capacity to perform DNA testing. This came at the additional cost of almost $70M to an already billion-dollar laboratory built in 2014 under the previous People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) administration.

The forensic lab is a Government of Guyana initiative with the goal to provide quality laboratory service to support forensic and non-forensic investigations. The facility will offer forensic analysis on samples related to criminal investigations in the areas of toxicology, questioned documents analysis, trace evidence and chemical analysis.

Isaiah Braithwaite.

Image: Ameer Sattaur.