Forensic DNA testing is now available in Suriname

The Forensic DNA laboratory of the Medical Research (MWI) Institute can now perform forensic DNA testing. With this, the Surinamese judiciary has gained access to a very powerful tool for presenting evidence. During the launch of the lab last month, various speakers expressed high expectations for the test results. Attorney General Subhaas Punwasi said that with the commissioning of the Forensic DNA Laboratory a higher resolving rate of criminal cases is to be expected. Nico de Bel, Director of the Institute sees the commissioning of the laboratory as a milestone for the Surinamese justice. Minister Edward Belfort was extremely pleased with our own forensic DNA laboratory and congratulated the MWI and especially Malti Adhin, head of the forensic DNA lab, with the achieved milestone. He also expressed his gratitude to the Dutch charge d’affaires and the US ambassador for their financial support.

Presenting hard evidence
The entire process of categorizing traces, isolating DNA, quantifying and multiplying DNA (using the Polymerase Chain Reaction PCR technology) and finally the DNA profiling/analysis is now done in Suriname. Initially biological traces like blood, saliva, semen and hair will be used. The comparison of DNA profiles of traces with possible suspects can now provide solid evidence in homicides, sexual offenses and even in burglaries. DNA evidence can not only be used as evidence to convict the guilty, but also as evidence to exonerate the innocent. In 2009 the work group ‘Surinamese Forensic Institute’ (SFI) was installed under the leadership of Attorny General Roy Baidjnath Panday, to prepare the establishment of the Surinamese Forensic Institute. The Ministry of Justice and Police indicates that the task of this Institute is to professionalize and expand the forensic research areas in Suriname. These include the fields of pathology, chemistry and ballistic research, together with the introduction of forensic DNA.

Advanced technology
DNA testing is an advanced technology, which requires not only high-tech equipment, separated and precisely controlled laboratory facilities, but also highly specialized expertise. In 2010, the Ministry of Justice and Police concluded an agreement with the Medical Scientific Institute to set up this process and with the NFI (Dutch Forensic Institute), a contract was signed to provide the necessary assistance. In October 2011 in collaboration with the Dutch Forensic Institute a validation process was started. The MWI successfully completed all three phases of the validation process successfully completed on 12 September 2012. In the last quarter of 2012, forensic trace seekers of the Police corps were trained.

The MWI has an independent position, good laboratory facilities and scientific experience. In its molecular laboratory DNA tests have already been done for health care .

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