The five member countries of the East Africa Community have agreed to set up a regional Referral Forensic Centre in cooperation with technical support from the German Government.
This follows the support given the project by the Police chiefs of the EAC in an attempt to boost their fight against crime in the region and conserve much needed hard currency spent on outsourcing forensic investigations.
“We have to work together for our common future and prosperity,” Fabien Ndayishimiye, the director-general of Burundi’s National Police, told EAC experts in Bujumbura who were on a visit to assess the country’s suitability to host the RRFC.
In a statement issued from the EAC Secretariat, Ndayishimiye said the EAC bloc is united and any crime in a partner state has an impact on the other member states.
The EAC’s eight-member forensic experts’ team started its assessment tour on 8 March.
In Rwanda, the Inspector-General of Police, Emmanuel Gasana, commended the EAC for pioneering the regional referral forensic center, adding that his country supported the initiative.
“We are seriously waiting to see establishment of a very good facility in addressing emerging crimes,” he said.
Gasana added that Rwanda had already upgraded its own forensic facility to address investigation challenges.
“The government spends huge amounts of resources to outsource forensic services and expertise from abroad but time is ripe to acquire our own services and expertise which will cut down on both the time and the resources,” he said.
On his part, the Inspector-General of Police of Tanzania, Saidi Mwema, said the country had already approved and implemented police force reforms, including modernizing its forensic investigation capacity.
“We want to see the people in an integrated East Africa benefit and be proud of our professional police services,” Mwema said in Dar es Salaam during a visit by the forensic experts. “All these efforts have full government backing.”
The Inspector General of Police of Uganda, Lt-Gen Kale Kayihura, said there was need for East African countries to have ultra-modern forensic services, citing the 2008 terrorist bombings in Kampala as a case in point during which forensic investigations services were outsourced.
“If partner states [of the EAC]can pool together their capacities, we can achieve a lot,” said Grace Akullu, the Assistant Inspector General of Uganda Police and Uganda’s Head of Criminal Investigations Department (CID), who represented Lt-Gen Kayihura.
According to Didacus Kaguta, the EAC Peace and Security Officer, who led delegation of experts, the regional forensic centre, once established, would ensure standards such as quality control, certification of forensic scientists as well as the accreditation of forensic laboratories.
“The facility is also expected to offer high-class training and research services,” Kaguta said, adding that the facility would store data to be shared with the partner states whenever required.
“Even the experts will be readily available from the centre to beef up the national resources during the time of need like emerging calamities such as terrorist attack investigations,” Kaguta said.
The EAC and the Federal German Government jointly facilitated the assessment mission by the forensic experts.
GIZ Peace and Security Advisor Joachim Von Bonin said the German government shares a long history with the EAC and enjoys a very cordial partnership in the region’s integration effort.
The report of the experts will be presented to the next meeting of the Chiefs of Police and the fifth Sectoral Council on Inter-State Security for consideration and adoption.
The EAC has already initiated the harmonization of peace and security initiatives, common policing standards, joint investigations, exchange of information and mutual legal assistance, among other services.