FORENSIC experts in East Africa have underscored the need for convergence in institutional set ups in the partner states in support of justice, law and order.
The experts, however, expressed concern over Burundi's state of its police who had only rudimentary fingerprint and photographic services. Burundi also lacks well equipped forensic laboratory. It was observed that there was need for the police in Burundi to set up a forensic laboratory with at least basic facilities.
The Uganda Police invited Burundi to explore how they could benefit from training the former's police experts in basic forensics. This would provide a starting point towards establishing a police forensic laboratory in Burundi. The meeting further noted that offers from other partner states to train forensic staff from Burundi still stood.
The meeting of the Forensic Experts Working Group on Operationalization of the Regional Forensic Referral Centre (RFRC) brought together forensic experts from the police The meeting was opened by the EAC deputy Secretary General in charge of political federation, Dr Julius Rotich.
He underscored the importance of peace and security in the region for mutual development. The meeting deliberated on the functions of RFRC, taking note of its three original mandates --standards and quality control, provision of expertise and training and research.
Participants observed that the centre will also play a coordinating role for forensic services in the region. In collaboration with EAC Secretariat the centre will spearhead programmes aimed at improving national forensic centres within the partner states. It was agreed that before the RFRC is fully established, there is need to have a transitional period of three years commencing July 2013.
The experts working group proposed that a meeting of legal experts to develop the legal instruments for the centre be held in March 2013. Their report will be submitted to the Chiefs of Police and the Sectoral Council on Inter State Security for policy guidance.
The transition structure and staff will be expected to be in place by July 2013. and heads of government analytical laboratories from the partner states. The objective was to share experiences on the functions of RFRC, to develop a roadmap for establishment of the centre; to develop cooperation modalities for the centre, form interim RFRC structure and to identify funding and staffing modalities.
The session, held in Kampala, was chaired by Lenny Mugalu of Uganda, who is also Head of Forensic Unit of the Uganda police force.