Tshering Palden

The government is in the process of establishing a national forensic facility at the public health laboratory in Serbithang, Thimphu.

Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering said that he has been working together on details of establishing the facility for the past one month.

The occurrence of two suspected murders of minors has brought the need for a complete national forensic laboratory to the fore. The nine-year-old girl’s body was handed over to relatives from the crime scene since the forensic department at JDWNRH did not have facility to perform autopsy.

In the Paro rape and murder of a minor case which occurred in September this year, police had to send DNA samples of 980 suspects to the United Kingdom spending Nu 40,000 for each sample and paying Nu 39.2 million altogether.

Some argue that had the government made previous governments made this investment the money could have remained within the country.

While the courts give police 108 days to present forensic evidence, results in most cases take much longer.

Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering said that justice have been delayed as forensic test results took time as samples had to be sent abroad. However, he said that the claims of justice denied would not be true.

“I have heard that the judiciary has also sought some funds after discussing on the issue to institute a forensic lab.”

Stakeholders during a recent meeting came to a consensus that a common forensic lab with all the required facilities would be better than each of the agencies establishing their own units.

It was also agreed that all resources should be consolidated to expand the JDWNRH forensic department under the health ministry.

He said that police, health ministry and the judiciary have been working together to establish the laboratory. “Each of them will have their own authority and security of the facility would be given utmost priority.”

The forensic medicine department at JDWNRH in 2017 handled 339 domestic violence cases, 65 sexual violence cases, 643 interpersonal violence, 19 examination of perpetrators of crime, 310 road traffic accidents, 53 cases of unnatural death, and gave expert opinion to courts on 12 cases, among others.

As per the JDWNRH website the Department has a forensic medicine specialist, a forensic laboratory technologist, two forensic health assistants, and a forensic nurse.