Guyana still unable to conduct DNA testing

…equipment yet to be delivered 2 years later

Guyana is still unable to conduct its own Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) testing instead of having to send samples overseas despite assurances from Government that this would have come to fruition last year.
Years have passed since the Guyana Police Force commissioned its Forensic Laboratory and there have been frequent delays as to when DNA testing would commence.
Public Security Minister, Khemraj Ramjattan on Saturday promised that 2019 would be the year when Guyanese could finally benefit from having its own DNA testing services instead of relying on other facilities overseas. However, he could not pinpoint a date, although the country has been waiting on the testing equipment for over two years.
“We are having some problems in relation to the equipment. The contract was awarded to an Italian firm. The firm is supposed to be making the arrangements to get it to us. We thought that it should have been here by now. It is not here by now.”
He explained that although the equipment has not arrived on the shores of Guyana despite assurances from the Italian contracting company that it would have been up and running since 2018, training for local staff who are to work in the DNA department has already commenced.
In 2017, Minister Ramjattan said that the forensic laboratory is currently equipped to conduct testing including those on currencies, forged documents, and ballistics. Under the second component of the of Public Security Ministry’s Citizen Security Strengthening Programme (CSSP), there are provisions for improving the Guyana Police Force’s (GPF) Forensic Laboratory’s effectiveness towards preventing and conducting criminal investigations. This component is being funded at the cost of US$5.5 million through the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).
As part of the lab’s qualification and certification process, it has to be fully equipped and the staff have to be qualified to conduct DNA tests which are internationally recognised.
DNA is a material that is found in all living organisms, and it has been used to solve murders across many of the world’s countries.
In July 2014, Guyana’s first forensic laboratory was officially opened but the lack of DNA testing at that facility continues to provide a challenge to the solving of many high-profile murder cases.