Gov't moves to operationalise DNA database
Government is working towards the operationalisation of a proper functioning DNA register.
Speaking at a joint media conference on Wednesday, Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi revealed that government is in talks with entities to begin taking DNA samples to populate the DNA register, beginning with the prison population.
The move is expected to boost the detection rate and ultimately prosecution and conviction rates as Al-Rawi said DNA sampling of arrested individuals will take place, so that forensic evidence from a DNA basis will be available to investigators.
He stressed the importance of a functioning DNA bank in the Police Service’s ability to solve crime, referencing the “heinous” murder of schoolgirl Rachael Ramkissoon.
The Attorney General noted that the investigation into the girl’s murder is currently confined to evidence “which may perhaps best be led from a DNA basis because there will be traces”.
Having a proper functional DNA register gives a better chance at detection, prosecution and conviction because the evidence will be available to the authorities, he added.
National Security Minister Edmund Dillon, who was also a part of the conference agreed that the DNA register would assist in moving the detection rate to a more satisfactory percentage.
Focusing on the detection pillar of anti-crime initiatives set out by the National Security Ministry, Dillon said government has employed a DNA custodian.
The custodian is expected to take up duties by the end of the month and will be the “prime mover” responsible for the management of that facility.
Dillon said with focus placed on areas like training and the introduction of new technology to aid in crime-fighting, the detection rate will be significantly improved.
Administration of Justice (Deoxyribonucleic Acid) 2012
Legislation to allow for the establishment of a forensic DNA databank was assented to in 2012. According to the legislation, the Forensic Science Centre shall be the official forensic DNA laboratory for Trinidad and Tobago, and shall have custody of and control over all DNA samples and DNA profiles, including the national Forensic DNA Databank.
The DNA Register shall be established by the Forensic Science Centre and government may, for the purpose of obtaining forensic DNA services, enter into an agreement with a laboratory that is accredited by an international accrediting body, and approved by the National Security Minister, by notification.