DNA lab needed to nab sex offenders

September 18, 2008 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, September 18 – A taskforce established to map out regulations to guide the implementation of the Sexual Offences Act on Thursday recommended the establishment of a DNA laboratory and a databank for sexual offenders.

A member of the taskforce Njoki Ndung’u said a forensic laboratory was essential to cater for sexual offences and other crimes, noting that the government chemist was not secure enough.

“Currently the government chemist is housed under the Ministry of Health. The government chemist will be testing the fertilizer in the same place he will be testing criminal evidence,” Ndung’u said.

“Evidence can be interfered with and this is something which really needs urgent attention. We know that it will cost the government a lot of money but it is very urgent,” she added.

Taskforce Chairperson Lady Justice Joyce Aluoch explained that the databank would consist of a crime scene index that contains DNA profiles, and a dangerous offender’s index that would be kept at the criminal investigations department. She said the procedures for the transportation, storage and destruction of samples were also spelt out in the regulations. This, she said, would be used in cases where the samples are brought in from far areas.

“How you carry and store it matters, because if you destroy it, it will not be effective,” said Justice Aluoch.

“Even if you take the offender to court, you cannot get a conviction because the sample was destroyed in the course of transportation and storage,” she informed.

The task force that was appointed by Attorney General Amos Wako a year ago also revealed that it was finalising a manual for the police force, with clear guidelines on how to handle sexual violation cases.
Ndung’u, who also spearheaded the formulation of the act, said the manual would contain draft charge sheets and clear examples of what police should expect from people who report sexual offences.

“For example, the doctors and clinicians have already got a training manual, which contains a form which we call the Post Rape Care form 1(PRC 1) – which is used in all hospitals,” she noted, adding that prosecutors and judicial officers had also been given their manuals.
Ndung’u reported that training was ongoing for chiefs and about 500 of them had already gone through it.

“Some were not even aware that the act existed and they were very curious to know what was contained in it.”

She said the PRC 1 was established to work hand in hand with the P3 form found at the police stations.

Justice Aluoch on the other hand stated that there were also regulations put in place to prescribe circumstances under which the court could enhance a sentence. This, she said, would take into account the number of times the perpetrator has committed the offence.

Speaking when she handed over the regulations to Wako for gazettement, Aluoch said an enhancement of the sentence would consider the age of the victim, the age of the perpetrator of the sexual offence, the victim’s impact statement and whether force was used during the sexual ordeal.

The team also developed an Inter-sectoral National Action Plan to promote, monitor and evaluate the effective implementation of the Act. Ndung’u illustrated that this was divided into eight sectors, namely; the judiciary, department of public prosecution, the police, provincial administration, prisons, after care services, health and forensic sciences. 

The Attorney General emphasised the need to sensitise the public on the Sexual Offences Act, which was enacted in 2006, but is yet to be implemented.


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