Rwandans will be paying less for DNA tests to establish parentage for children or get proof for rape and other gender-based crimes among other forms of evidence, thanks to a new forensic laboratory launched in Kigali.
The Kacyiru-based National Forensic Laboratory, unveiled by the Ministry of Justice yesterday, has started receiving requests for DNA tests at the cost of Rwf270,000 about USD310, a price that is nearly half what it would cost to conduct one test in foreign countries, like Germany.
Offering DNA tests in Rwanda will also cut the time it would take to get results, from about two to three months for tests ordered in Germany to between one day and three weeks.
Built at the cost of over Rwf6 billion, the laboratory will also be conducting tests in many other areas, such as establishing the authenticity of documents, the presence of drugs, alcohol, or poison in one’s blood, fingerprint analysis, autopsies, and ballistics to identify firearms in case of crimes among other tests.
Officials said that the lab is a boost to the country’s justice system because it will make investigations and prosecution of crimes easier by providing credible evidence.
As he officiated at its launch, Justice Minister Johnston Busingye said that the lab will be providing services that are normally found in developed countries outside Africa and described the lab’s launch as a big day for Rwanda.
“This is a state-of-the-art lab like you find anywhere else in the world. Rwandans expect a lot from this facility and I am sure it will provide satisfactory services,” he said.
The National Forensic Laboratory director-general, Assistant Commissioner of Police Dr François Sinayobye, said that the centre will be crucial for curbing serious crimes such as gender-based violence and drug abuse because people will know that evidence for those crimes can be easily established.
He also said that the lab’s services will be availed to different institutions such as the Rwanda Defence Force, the Rwanda National Police, and the Rwanda Correctional Service, which often need to ensure that they don’t admit drug addicts among their ranks.
Rwanda’s Prosecutor General, Jean Bosco Mutangana, said that the National Forensic Laboratory will be a great boost for justice in the country because it will reduce the time cases would spend in courts due to the lack of evidence.
Using an example of DNA tests and revealing that the country would make about 800 DNA test orders every year from Germany, he said that the laboratory’s services will help fast-track the investigation and prosecution of crimes.
“As prosecutors are very sensitive to time because justice delayed is justice denied,” he said as he described how important the lab will be for the justice sector.
The National Forensic Laboratory, which will operate as an independent agency with its own administrative system and the ability to sell services to different institutions and private individuals, says it will also extend their services to clients from foreign countries.