About this sample
About this sample
Words: 1619 |
9 min read
Published: Aug 4, 2023
Words: 1619|Pages: 4|9 min read
Forensic science is still an evolving interdisciplinary profession that applies science to matters of law (1). It encompasses a myriad of disciplines ranging from the social, medical, biological, and natural sciences. Thus, it's incredibly important to understand the importance of forensic science. The discovery of this invaluable tool has been a vehicle driving the necessary investigative methods, adjudication, solution, and curtailing of crimes worldwide (2,3).
This profession is aptly diversified. It is an embodiment of various disciplines hence called an interdisciplinary profession. Each specialty is a complement to the other. This is actually done for corroboration and confirmatory purposes (4). A candid example, is how a forensic pathologist is able to identify that the cause of death of a person is by poisoning, this is further confirmed by a forensic toxicologist or biochemist by doing quantitative or qualitative analysis on either the body fluids or organs of the deceased. This creates harmony and symphony in the Criminal and Law justice systems (5).
Despite these tremendous improvements, Africa on the other hand, took quite some time to embrace this emerging science (6). It happened in the late 20th century. It crept arduously into the African Criminal, Justice and Legal systems. It is still in its developmental stages. This wonderful discipline over some few decades, has helped law enforcement agencies across the African continent to solve myriad of crimes irrespective of their mode of occurrence (7). However, since the human population is ever increasing, crime rates are also parallel to the later. Crimes are now very much sophisticated and as such, they also need to be tackled with advanced technologies and highly tried and prudent investigative procedures (8–10).
Africa is still preparing to combat anticipated crimes. On the contrary, the necessary enabling environment, facilities, expertise and funds to make this a reality is not forthcoming. It is worthy to note that, low or no interest is heightened in order to help the various governments in different countries to help allocate funds in forensic science research and development. This is very evident in their yearly budget (11–13).
This review seeks to highlight on most of the improvements forensic science has brought into the criminal and legal justice systems in some African countries such as Ghana, Nigeria and South Africa. It will discuss some of their challenges and then also suggest some necessary recommendations and solutions that can help alleviate such anomalies.
The first Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) in Ghana was established in 1948 under the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of the Ghana Police Service (GPS) to serve as the main service provider of Forensic services in the country has undergone some positive transformations. The £3 million funding for revamping the FSL has received a major uplift in Chemistry and Drug Analysis, Ballistic and Firearms, Document Examination, Photography, and DNA analysis sections (14).
The Ghanaian FSL provides quality scientific analysis to private and public in Ghana by way of also strengthening criminal investigations. This has helped in exonerating and incarcerating innocent and perpetrators of crimes respectively. It is also interesting to note that advocacy in forensic education is gradually ascending. Some government and public tertiary institutions have gained the necessary legalities and accreditations by the National Accreditation Board (NAB), to train and educate students who venture this discipline. Some institutions have also been funded to periodically provide capacity building and training to law enforcement agencies to help combat crimes (15).
Regardless of the successes that Forensic science has brought to the Criminal and Justice system, it is still incumbent on us to identify the challenges that are fast approaching. Inadequate or proper Forensic Science Legislation, Governance Framework, Quality Assurance, Accreditation and Regulation and Forensic Science Research and Development are some of the challenges facing forensic science advancements as described by (16) in their extensive scrutiny. It is therefore imperative of us to help circumvent the above mentioned.
It is interesting to note that forensic science since its introduction in the Nigerian Criminal Justice System has help curtail heinous criminal activities such as cyber-crime, armed robbery, fraud, corruption and kidnapping (17). To some extent, there is a plausible heightened level of security measures meted out by the Nigerian police to help solve these problems. With such a huge population close to about 182.6 million, identifying deviants and perpetrators using the traditional detective methods will be cumbersome (18).
Although kidnapping and terrorism stands out to be one of the most prevalent crimes in Nigeria, they are not left unattended. Several cases such as this, have been thoroughly dealt with using internationally accepted, guarded methodologies coupled with modern forensic principles to bring such gory acts to book. The Establishment of a National Police Forensic Unit lab has also been instrumental in this said proceedings. It is of common knowledge that the unknown sophisticated criminals are always evolving to maneuver them through the grips of the law. This has created a ‘paradoxical tension’, “think like the thief, so you can catch him” (19).
In retrospect, each discipline of forensic science in South Africa has its distinct history. Owing to the dominance posed by segregated authorities and eurocentric African traditions. It was seen in the division and racialism in all aspects of the system (20). The new democratic South Africa has seen little progress. Drastic changes were witnessed in Forensic Science as well as other spheres of the society. There was therefore a necessity for high regulation of such professions by the Statuary Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCA). As reported by (21), influx of illegal migrants and other foreigners in the country had increase the crime rate and so this needed to be at the barest minimum. These regulations gradually metamorphosed into robust legislations and policies backed by constitution to counter and codon crimes (22).
Albeit the afore mentioned improvements, most African countries are still faced with threatening challenging problems with forensic science legislation and integration into the criminal justice system as described by (23–25).
This review reveals that it is expedient for us to invest more into forensic science research and development. It will help create the needed enabling environment by way of enacting laws and policies, adequate regulatory systems, total quality management systems and provision of funds to help champion peace. We can also employ certain advanced and best analytical practices from the western world and integrate them into our system to make life amicable. It is therefore unavoidable to leave forensic science out of political agenda and budgets of system of governance in the African diaspora because, it could be one of our novel tools for sustainable development.
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