Malawi graduates 60 police officers in forensic criminal investigation

Minister of Gender, Community and Social Welfare, Patricia Kaliati, has said government is upping its game in combating sexual and gender-based violence by training and equipping civil servants with skills to deal with the same.

Kaliati: Sexual crime perpetrators be warned

Kaliati said on Wednesday at the University of Malawi’s Chancellor College that having people properly trained in handling such issues as defilement will help put the perpetrators to a halt.

She was speaking during a graduation ceremony of sixty police officers who have been trained in forensic crime investigations.

Forensic Crime Investigation (FCI) is the use of scientific DNA data as evidence for those involved in sexual and gender-based violence, a component that Malawi as a country lacked.

According to Kaliati, government has been failing to win a lot of rape and defilement cases in the court of law due to lack of evidence.

“There have been instances where the court has thrown out the only evidence brought before it to the extent of acquitting perpetrators of sexual and gender-based violence, therefore, fuelling the acts in the process,” said Kaliati.

She added: “The skills development in conducting forensic investigation in defilement and rape will go a long way to provide quality data and evidence for prosecution of sexual and GBV cases.

“This is the evidence that will be a sharp mouth piece for the young girls and the deaf that cannot speak for themselves when they face violence.”

Kaliati said the DNA forensic test and analysis brings a much-awaited ray of hope for women who have always been considered as liars each time they made claims of sexual abuse.

“This is also to warn all men in the country to stop abusing women and girls because forensic analysis will catch up with you. Time is up for all who went unpunished, we will from now onwards arrest anyone involved in sexual and gender-based violence,” she warned.

Malawi Police Service (MPS) deputy inspector general responsible for administration, Merlyn Yotamu, admitted that often times they failed to comprehensively conduct investigations and prosecution of sexual and GBV cases due to limited capacity in the delivery of evidence-based policing services especially where DNA evidence was required.

She said the forensic training has come at the right time and would drastically reduce cases of sexual and GBV since there would be proof beyond doubts by the courts.

“In an increasingly globalized and interconnected world, use of forensic science on investigations of sexual violence cannot be underestimated. Forensic science plays a crucial role in our criminal justice system, aiding the investigation of crimes, prosecutors and conviction of crimes and exoneration of those falsely accused,” said Yotamu, adding: “Modern police service needs DNA technology for advancing justice discourse because it can be used to identify criminals with incredible accuracy.”

UNDP Portfolio Governance Manager, Julie Vandassen, said the European Community was committed to supporting the country in its quest to see cases of sexual and GBV go down and be completely stopped.

The training was made possible with support from the European Union through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Spotlight Initiative. (Additional reporting by Nyasa Times)

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