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March 22, 2018

Government Chemist is key to forensic probes in Kenya

Medicine on the shelf in a chemist in downtown Nairobi. / FILE
Medicine on the shelf in a chemist in downtown Nairobi. / FILE

High Court judge David Majanja is right in faulting the Government Chemist for slowing down cases in court that require DNA sampling (see P38).

The Chemist’s tardy response in providing results has led to cases related to defilement, sodomy, rape and murder dragging on for years.

In some cases, suspects are held over long periods in the cells which, as the judge said, is both unfair and unlawful.

The Chemist is a key part of forensic investigations in Kenya, including the food sector, some of which are very urgent.

DNA testing and results ought to be available at the county level or nearer facilities nationwide. It is unacceptable for rape, murder and paternity suspects to be held too long or walk away scot-free across Kenya because the Government Chemist is slow and or incompetent.

The Government Chemist and those who oversee the institution should assess the convenience of its services and effectiveness the whole of this year at the end of which the oversight authorities should act on their findings. 

The clients of the Chemist — scientists, regulators, enforcement agencies, industry and policymakers across all sectors — require professional and authoritative services.

Yet, just like other failing government services, the Chemist is often without crucial materials, rendering its critical services precarious and uncertain.


Quote of the Day: "Justice, sir, is the great interest of man on earth. It is the ligament which holds civilized beings and civilized nations together." — American statesman Daniel Webster endorsed the Compromise of 1850 on March 7, 1850.

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