Stop The Excuses

“SHOCKING” is hardly adequate the word to describe what continues to play out at our forensic laboratory, a still infant facility which commenced operations about five years ago.

In an Editorial four months ago, we commented on the laboratory following a series of questions by Leader of the Parliamentary Opposition Dr. Gale Rigobert, all of which signalled that something was terribly wrong at the then suddenly closed laboratory. While those questions will not again be indicated, most alarming was the one on the alleged tampering and disappearance of quantities of seized illegal drugs from the facility. Now four months later it remains closed and without any form of public disclosure by the authorities to Dr. Rigobert’s revealing questions, save for that some audit is being undertaken.

But that was not the first of the alarm bells as we had also referred to a number of disclosures which were made public almost two years ago, by the Forensic unit’s former DNA consultant, who had resigned, indicating serious management and operational problems at the laboratory.

Readers will also note that our contributor on forensic matters has also been repeatedly commenting, over an extended period, that things are far from right at the crime laboratory. We note that to the many comments from those individuals, the Minister of Legal Affairs, responsible for the laboratory, refuted them and promised a comprehensive report , which to date almost two years later has not materialized.

As if that is not enough other media reports now indicate the former director, who recently resigned, as coming out swinging with a scathing attack on the situation with the laboratory. Two million dollars of sophisticated equipment idle, not being maintained and very likely starting to rot, outstanding invoices to suppliers and service providers, contracts not honoured and expired insurance coverage for the property from June 2015 are among serious claims made. If these statements are correct and also from all what has been indicated above, here lies a damning indictment and the country now has on its hands a serious mess.

But should such a massive and necessary investment have been allowed to come to this? Evidently the Ministry of Legal Affairs and or maybe the very former director were ignoring the many comments and warnings made, resulting in the laboratory’s plight and the consequences the country faces. If her claims are interpreted correctly it seems a large injection of capital will be needed to resuscitate and properly reestablish the laboratory, especially for the ‘at risk’ equipment key in obtaining correct results necessary for its credibility and proper functioning of our criminal justice system. We must also shudder to contemplate the even further embarrassment had our laboratory been servicing the OECS region, as it really should have by now.

Crime is at the fore of our nation’s problems and the many unsolved serious cases are diminishing our confidence in police investigators. So we are now forced to ask how fair was it to them in having been denied a proper and efficient forensic support service, even worse now closed and so tax payers will have to foot the bills for any referred overseas work.

The situation at the laboratory has to be addressed once and for all to save this important investment. Without a doubt the Minister of Legal Affairs must come out and put order to this very sad state of affairs and show slate. This is not the time for excuses or three sentence explanations or sidestepping the issues, as they are now squarely before us.

The public whose taxes have both built and supported that facility and will evidently be asked to further foot the consequences of all mistakes made, need to be accounted to and informed as to the exact status of the laboratory and all the many claims made, particularly on the matter of the illegal drugs at the facility. Additionally all key information on the way forward must be given.

1 Comment

  1. This has been going on for years so it would be wonderful to actually have ministers acknowledge that action must be taken to reinstate the lab instead of sweeping the problem under the carpet. Perhaps they need to be in the situation where they want lab results for a criminal case to progress professionally.
    Please keep plugging for action.

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