On July 13, 2022, President Uhuru Kenyatta presided over the official opening of the DCI National Forensic Laboratory. The Head of State was accompanied by several leaders including Chief Justice Martha Koome, Interior Cabinet Secretary Dr Fred Matiang’i, Inspector General of Police Hillary Mutyambai and the Director of Criminal Investigations George Kinoti.
Following the unveiling, the Ksh4 billion DCI National Forensics Laboratory puts Kenya at par with world-leading nations in terms of cracking complex cases. Prior to this, the dream for the country to have a National Forensic facility that would help in solving crime scientifically had been elusive for many years, even after successive governments invested billions of shillings in the project.
The Forensic Laboratory had been identified as a security flagship project under Vision 2030 and was one of the projects to be completed under the 1st Medium Term plan 2008-2012. Despite being classified under the security, peace building and conflict management sector which plays a critical and strategic role in achieving the targets of vision 2030, the project failed to materialize until March 2014, when the Jubilee administration kicked off the project.
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Over the last nine years, the government has invested heavily in the construction of the physical structure and installed the relevant state-of-the-art equipment, in the 10 specialized scientific labs within the laboratory.
According to the DCI, qualified detectives in various academic scientific fields such as Computer Science, Pure Mathematics, Chemistry, Biology, Biochemistry, Physics and Information Technology among others, have been deployed to offer their professional services in their respective areas of specialization.
The completion of this facility, therefore, heralds a new chapter in Kenya’s history, as one of the country’s economic mainstays that will be key in shaping the country’s prosperity.
“This is therefore a historic national achievement that DCI cannot celebrate alone, but with all Kenyans and stakeholders specifically within the criminal justice system.
“Today, we bring you a comprehensive coverage of the Commissioning of this critical state-of-the-art facility, that is comparable to none in Africa and which is the regional seat of Forensic investigations,” the DCI Kinoti stated during the unveiling.
The DCI National Forensics Laboratory will boost the effectiveness of crime investigations ensuring faster conclusion of cases since samples will not be sent to South Africa for forensic analysis, as has been in the past. Delays in investigations were occasioned by detectives having to wait for toxicology tests on samples shipped out of the country.
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The 10-laboratory facility will now solve crimes such as terrorism, robbery with violence, murder, cyber fraud, espionage, kidnappings, rape and defilement using modern scientific methods that limit human interaction with evidence and allow for proper documentation for successful convictions. Other crimes such as organised transnational crime, trafficking of drugs, illicit arms and wildlife trophies will now be unravelled by detectives using scientific data.
Inside the DCI National Forensics Laboratory is an ultramodern fingerprint identification lab which will conduct forensic analysis on concealed fingerprint marks by linking suspects to crime scenes. This unit will also keep criminal records in the form of fingerprints and be tasked with the issuance of certificates of good conduct.
The forensic chemistry lab will undertake the microscopy of gun-shot powder residue on clothes and human skin to establish the person in possession of a firearm used in a crime. Also, the unit will conduct toxicological analysis of blood stains, urine and other specimens to establish traces of poison or drugs in the human body. With the modern equipment, this unit will be able to extract soil samples from a suspect’s shoe and match it with the crime scene.
DNA testing on a range of biological samples gathered from a rape or homicide scene or suspect that can act as evidence in court will be undertaken by the forensic biology lab. The unit will also maintain a DNA Index System for use in solving future crimes.
The retrieval and processing of CCTV exhibits, audio-visual recordings, crime scene enactment through videography and analyse biometric voice recognition for use in court as exhibits will be conducted by the forensic imaging and acoustic lab. This unit will also keep custody of the records.
The cybercrime and digital forensics lab will be tasked with collecting evidence from digital equipment like computers, digital cameras, memory cards, flash disks and other storage devices. The department will also help in recovering deleted short message texts, contact lists, videos and email sources.
The unit will come as a major boost in combating the rampant cases of SIM swapping, cybercrime and cryptocurrency fraud that have been on the rise in the country.
Other labs within the DCI National Forensics Laboratory include; the document examination, ballistics examination, bomb and hazardous material disposal unit and forensic evidence management laboratory.
The Anti-Terror Police Unit (ATPU)’s databank for current and emerging terror suspects will also be hosted at the facility. All these departments will be manned by experts trained both locally and internationally.
The DCI National Forensics Laboratory will also complement the services offered by the government chemist by reducing the turnaround time for samples picked for further investigations during post-mortem examinations.