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DNA testing to cost police UGX 1.7 billion every year

Police forensic analysts inside DFS. Courtesy photo

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Uganda Police will be spending close to 2 billion Shillings to conduct DNA tests every year.

This is according to the cost per sample as explained by the acting head of force’s Directorate of Forensic Sciences-DFS Andrew Mubiru.

In his document to the commissioning of the DFS, Mubiru explains that a capital offence that involves examining DNA samples of both the suspects and victims would cost police at least 4.5 million shillings.

Mubiru indicates that the newly commissioned DFS is cable of putting out 100 DNA cases per quarter at a tune of 450 million shillings. This translates into a 4.5 million shilling per case. Police’s Criminal Investigations Directorate –CID has been registering at least 380 cases that require DNA testing.

When you multiply the 380 DNA cases per year with 4.5 million shillings per case, police would be spending a minimum of 1.7 billion shillings annually on DNA analysis. Unlike the paternity DNA tests that often give conclusive results on a single examination, police say forensic tests in most cases have to be conducted twice or more to get undoubted results to enable successful prosecution of culprits.

Mubiru adds that even with the establishment of DFS at Naguru police headquarters, the cost for DNA analysis won’t necessarily reduce. This is because of a series of steps involved such as the use of presumptive tests to understand whether one is dealing with human blood or something else.

Dr Alfred Okeng, a DNA analyst at MBN Laboratories says an investigation for cases such as rape usually needs a different type of reagents. The reagents may include one that specifically goes for a white chromosome system and a photosome system that detects the DNA from either the female or male in case of a varginal swab.

A forensic test per sample at MBN according to Dr Okeng costs 520,000 Shillings. In case of a rape case, Dr Okeng says examination will require three samples which include a varginal swab, culprit and victim blood samples.

Dr Hannington Byarugaba who is also a DNA analyst at City Ambulance agrees with Mubiru and Dr Okeng that forensic analysis is quite expensive. Dr Byarugaba explains that forensic examination costs over 500,000 Shillings per sample at their laboratories.

“In some cases, DNA analysis may be repeated especially when during the trial one of the sides contests the outcome. The court might order for a repeat of the process in the presence of everyone and all parties sign on the forms,” Dr Byarugaba said.

Dr Okeng adds that when dealing with a sample from the womanhood normally referred to as virginal swab or examining bloodstains, the DNA results are often inconclusive. This becomes difficult to analyse the partial DNA profile. To rule out doubts, Dr Okeng said one needs to repeat the sample and that increases the costs.

Police commissioned its Directorate of Forensic Science last month at police headquarters with the hope that it will reduce prosecution delays that have been caused by delayed submission of expert reports.

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