As part of activities marking the celebrations of The Gambia's 48th Independence Anniversary, the country's first ever Forensic Science Laboratory was on Tuesday inaugurated at the Gambia Police Force headquarters by the vice president and minister of Women's Affairs, Her Excellency, Aja Dr Isatou Njie-Saidy.
Funded by the government of the Republic of China (Taiwan), the laboratory contains an automated finger printing machine system which is expected to be operated by eight Gambian police officers who had earlier received training in Taiwan.
The facility is established to assist the Gambia Police Force in its ceaseless efforts of combating crime and other unlawful activities such as drug peddling for the enhancement of social stability and security. It also seeks to complement the services of the 'Operation Bulldozer initiative' in the quest of keeping crimes at bay in the country.
Vice President Njie-Saidy in her inaugural statement underscored that the use of Forensic Science Laboratories in crime investigation has revolutionized the nature of investigation, in that scientific methods are used to bolster the accuracy of circumstantial evidence gathered from crime scenes.
She said the lucrative nature of crimes such as drug pushing, cyber crime and human trafficking, has led to the increase in organized crimes.
"Therefore, in order to successfully contain this growing menace, equipment such as the ones we are here to inaugurate as well as the trained and professional personnel are required," she said.
The vice president pointed out that even though many crimes have been solved through Forensic methods, many still remain unresolved due to the lack of necessary equipment to conduct such investigations.
"The government of Taiwan has done its part by providing this very expensive equipment to The Gambia Police Force and also training personnel in their use. It is now left to the inspector general of Police and his team to ensure their proper maintenance and sustainability," she enjoined.
Challenging the inspector general of Police and his team to ensure the facilitation of continuous training of personnel for the maximum use of the equipment, VP Njie-Saidy assured that the government will continue to uphold its zero tolerance approach to crime and criminal behaviour through persistent support to the Police force in every possible way.
She seized the moment to commend the government of Taiwan through its Banjul embassy for its support in the development aspirations of the Gambia.
The Taiwanese ambassador to The Gambia, Samuel Chen, described the establishment of the Forensic laboratory as marked achievement of Gambia government for a long-term interest.
"Unarguably, national security and social stability must be the first priority of any country," he said. This, he noted, was the reason why President Jammeh expressed his desire to set up a modern forensic science laboratory in The Gambia when he visited the Taiwan Central Police University (TCPU) in April 2009.
Ambassador Chen expressed hope that the scientific system will help The Gambia Police Force increase its crackdown on criminals.
The minister of Interior, Ousman Sonko also said that the facility would be a useful arsenal in The Gambia's fight against crime. The facility, he said, will enhance the capacity of the GPF crime unit and support criminal investigation.
Sonko informed that the facility is already operational and that it has since been helping the police in many of their investigations. He stated that the Forensic system has greatly helped the Police establish facts in cases like the Old Jeshwang prison break; the Trust Bank case and the FI Bank case.
Minister Sonko thanked the government and the people of Taiwan for funding the project, saying, the intervention of the Asian island nation is overwhelming.
He then reiterated the need for the general public to help the police in addressing crimes by reporting criminals instead of harboring them.
The inspector general of Police, Yankuba Sonko, also shared the view that the system will help themin the full execution of their duties in combating crime in the country.
"The job of the prosecutors on investigation will now be well improved and will serve as a source of inspiration for them hence they have the required equipment to carry out their functions," he stated.
Commending the government of Taiwan for its continued assistance to the GPF and the entire Gambian people, IGP Sonko assured that the equipment would be handled with care to ensure its durability.