KP Sharma

Bhutan inaugurated its first-ever forensic science laboratory, ushering in a new era for the Royal Bhutan Police (RBP) by eliminating the reliance on foreign forensic facilities for investigative results.

Situated in Thimphu, the newly established police forensic science laboratory will revolutionise and enhance the investigative processes of criminal cases in the country.

The lab comprises three units for DNA analysis, fingerprints, and data integration, each staffed with specialised technicians and furnished with cutting-edge technologies.

The new facility at Serbithang

The police expects that this facility will overcome past challenges arising from the absence of a well-equipped forensic lab, eliminating dependence on foreign facilities for forensic analysis—commonly a bottleneck in investigations incurring hefty costs.

One of the establishment include a robust DNA database, crucial in solving crimes, preventing wrongful convictions, identifying missing persons, and contributing to national security efforts.

Tashi Phuntsho, the commanding officer of the forensic unit, said that the lab’s inception would mark a transformative shift in the justice system, shifting from confession-based to evidence-based legal findings.

He further stated that the lab would drastically reduce the turnaround time for evidence processing, ensuring reliability and expediting investigations for more timely results.

“The conventional way of processing DNA takes a lot of time that delays the investigation.”

The police expressed hope for a reduction in crime rates and resolve the pending cases across the country.

To ensure reliable and timely results, the police have trained 15 officers and personnel in DNA analysis in Singapore. The broader impact of the forensic lab, as stated by the police, extends to the entire criminal justice system, promising improved legal proceedings and contributing to a safer and more just society.

Major General Chimi Dorji, the chief of police, highlighted the historical challenges faced by the police due to the absence of a well-established forensic laboratory, hindering access to critical evidence in criminal investigations.

“A police force must have all the necessary tools, skills and equipment in place to tackle any crime at the shortest possible time.”

“The lab will enhance our capabilities and capacities in solving crimes and overall efficiency in the criminal justice system,” he added.

The construction of the laboratory received support from the Austrian development agency, providing a grant of 851,488.56 EUR, and underwent technical validation from Cellmark, a renowned UK-based DNA analysis company.

In addition, a grants of 264,962.68 EUR for data integration and 25,477.71 EUR for remodeling child and disability-friendly rooms in the Women and Children Protection Unit (WCPU) in Thimphu was also granted.