Tanzania Daily News (Dar es Salaam)

29 July 2014

Tanzania: National DNA Database On Card

THE state, through the Government Chemist Laboratory Agency (GCLA), is putting in place a computerised DNA national database that will be include citizens' official documents to address a conflicting number of legal issues.

The system would be used, when need be, in dealing with issues of illegal immigrants, poaching, crime incidents, street children and many more.

Speaking at an award giving ceremony for best performing chemistry students, the Chief Government Chemist, Prof Samwel Manyele, said the set up of the national DNA database follows a directive from the government on the need to address such legal needs to the fullest.

He said they have written a write-up to that effect, which among other things, calls for the expansion of laboratories, procurement of machines and experts in a bid to have a database that will cater for various sections needs.

Prof Manyele said they have a DNA database in place for those who have been involved in various cases, adding that once ready for takeoff, they will be working with a number of agencies, including NIDA, whereas 'every citizen's information as per DNA's data" will be available.

"We have a good number of street children, illegal immigrants, poachers and many more. Once the citizens' DNA database is in place, these legal issues will be addressed once and for all," he said.

He was optimistic that by January, next year, they will have a pilot database in an effort to drive down crime and reach the national goal of driving down crimes as well as doing justice for each citizen.

"You find a citizen has been sued for murder and remain in remand for ten years and when the case comes before the court, it is in the end proved that he/she did not commit the offence.

This is very disheartening," said Prof Manyele. He added that to make it work, the laboratory has secured the services of seven experts while more are on training.

Furthermore, he said, a special initiative is being taken to mobilise students in chemistry and biology so that they can fill the expertise gap in future.

Prof Manyele recommended that the government also needs to invest in purchasing sample machines and equipment needed, which will be taken to their zonal laboratory so that the sample can be taken there and all relevant information registered in the national database.

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