By Mourice Seretta
President Uhuru Kenyatta on Monday officially opened the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) National Forensic Laboratory.
Speaking during the launch at the DCI headquarters in Nairobi, President Kenyatta said the new state-of-the-art facility will improve the DCI’s ability to unravel complex crimes and support the criminal justice system through evidence-based investigations.
The President added that the new forensic laboratory will also facilitate the quick and reliable reconstructions of events as well as identification of suspects through validated and internationally acceptable means.
“The evidence-led investigation, that is enabled through these enhanced forensic capabilities will also steer the modernization of the Directorate of Criminal Investigations and ensure the Directorate meets the international policing norms and standards.
“As a supplementary dividend, it will also protect our police officers from unfounded allegations that have been there in the past,” President Kenyatta said.
He pointed out that the ultra-modern facility will also help in the unravelling of capital offences such as murder and robbery with violence as well as combating emerging and transitional organized crimes including terrorism, drug trafficking, illicit arms trade, counterfeiting, smuggling and offences against wildlife.
Noting that over the last two decades crime has dramatically changed and expanded into new frontiers, the President said the new facility will revolutionize the investigatory techniques through cutting-edge science resulting in a safer and more just Kenya for all.
“In that regard, this national undertaking is expected to disrupt established criminal patterns by forensic laboratory techniques, crime scene techniques, documentation, and proper transportation of exhibits while maintaining the chain of custody as well as customs and borders security,” he said.
The Head of State singled out sim swapping and the typical “tuma kwa hii number” syndicate as some of the crimes that the DCI national forensic laboratory will deal with properly.
He expressed satisfaction that the Government’s reforms in the security sector including the urban security surveillance system, police housing and group medical and life insurance cover have enhanced the capacity of the police service, the prison service and the entire criminal justice system.
At the same time, President Kenyatta directed the Ministry of Interior jointly with the Ministry of ICT to come up with ways of further strengthening the capacity of the cybercrime unit within the DCI forensic laboratory.
“I further direct the National Police Service to introduce a mandatory continuous professional development programme on Cyber Security for all officers charged with criminal investigations,” President Kenyatta said.
In his remarks, Interior CS Dr. Fred Matiang’i thanked President Kenyatta for facilitating the establishment of transformative institutions in the security that have helped Kenyans receive improved services.
“It takes leadership because your vision, when you took the oath of office in 2013, many of these institutions and things we are talking about here were non-existent. Today, when we look at the capacities we have acquired, it is a tribute to your focus, to your judgement and to your commitment to our country and especially the commitment to the security sector.
“One way we can pay tribute to His Excellency the President is to use these resources effectively to make Kenyans even much more proud because of the turnaround time in investigations, because the song about sending samples to South Africa is coming to an end today,” Dr. Fred Matiang’i.
Chief Justice Martha Koome said the institutions and the actors in the Kenyan criminal justice sector are grateful for the development of the national forensic laboratory, saying it will enhance the effectiveness of the country’s criminal justice sector.
The Chief Justice pointed out that the forensic laboratory will enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of the DCI’s investigations capability leading to a positive ripple effect throughout the justice sector.
Other speakers included Inspector General of Police Hillary Mutyambai and DCI Director George Kinoti.