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Government Analytical Laboratory Shelves 5556 Cases

Kepher Ketau, the Accounting Officer Directorate of government Analytical Laboratory says, A budget has been drawn to handle case backlog in the 2019/20 financial year amounting to shilling 12.7bn.
Scene of crime officers complying exhibits, some if which ate sent to DGAL
The Directorate of government Analytical Laboratory (DGAL) has had to shelf 5556 cases in the past years due to shortage of manpower, reagents and limited equipment, the Auditor General has revealed. Directorate of government Analytical Laboratory is charged with handling forensic analysis.

During the 2017/2018 financial year audit, the Auditor General established that the laboratory which handles mainly criminal forensic analysis on police request was only able to handle 36% of the 2000 cases referred there.

A reliable police source privy to the operations of the DGAL told URN that they have always complained of shortage of reagents for various analyses something that makes the force unable to move forward with investigations into some cases.

"We have cases dating as far back as 2015 where we are still waiting for reports from DGAL. Some are toxicology, others DNA reports. So we end up not proceeding with investigations until we get these report," the source told URN on condition of anonymity.

While some cases are immediately handled, some have to wait for years. In most cases, the limited reagents and man power are reserved for prominent cases. The most recent example is the investigations into the murder of Archie Rwego, a resident of Kira Municipality in Wakiso district. 

Blood samples were sent to the laboratory for DNA comparison in October 2018 but no report has been issued three months later. 'There is need to prioritize the implementation of this case backlog strategy and engage Government to have the budget for this activity funded," the auditor General John Muwanga said.

Kepher Ketau, the Accounting Officer Directorate of government Analytical Laboratory says, "A budget has been drawn to handle case backlog in the 2019/20 financial year amounting to shilling 12.7bn."

In the last four financial years, the Directorate has spent Shillings 2.2billion to construct regional laboratories in Mbarara, Gulu, Mbale and Moroto. The laboratories were meant to decentralize exhibit analysis in different regions.

While visiting the laboratories, the Auditor General and his team found that, although these regional centers are open, they were non-operational. "They lacked adequate staff and necessary equipment and had instead been turned into collection centers for exhibits and samples for onward transmission to Kampala. Failure to optimally utilize such resources not only denies the public the services of the Government chemist but also directly affects the delivery of justice," reads the auditor General's report in part.

While in his report, the Auditor General pointed out the case backlog, he didn't explain the persistence of the shortage of the reagents. It is unclear whether the shortage is a result of procurement delays or funding.

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