ATTORNEY General Faris Al-Rawi says 15,000 DNA kits are en route to TT and regulations to bring DNA legislation to life will be laid in the Parliament this Friday.
He was speaking yesterday at the launch of Model Guidelines for Sexual Offence Cases in the Caribbean Region at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Port of Spain. The guidelines were created by the Judicial Reform and Institutional Strengthening (JURIST) Project in the Caribbean, an initiative of the Canadian government, and in collaboration with the Caribbean Court of Justice and regional judiciaries.
He said there have been DNA laws since 2000 but they are not used and Government has been pleased to operationalise DNA laws.
Al-Rawi explained that for sexual offences it must be ensured that the weight of evidence is quickly managed and when there is something like DNA, with a 99.8 per cent reflection on evidence, you are narrowing the gap. He said this will also invite people to adopt plea bargaining, for which there has been legislation since 1999 but has only been used a few times, because they are facing a strong consequence.
“So the Government has taken every single sexual offence matter, listed it, and called for the DNA profiling against it.”
He said not only has a DNA custodian been appointed and outfitted, but there are 15,000 DNA kits en route to TT to begin inputting data into the DNA databank. He explained this will comprise all sexual offenders and all people accused against the profiles of people who are in the system.
He said they must ensure the Police Service, Prison Service and forensic experts are in the databank.
“So we have an opportunity for the first time in our country to bring to life DNA legislation and put it to work in courts in a specialised environment.”
On the sexual offences guidelines, Al-Rawi said they were only as useful as the articulating system to make them work. He pointed out that while in the body of laws there are a lot of what is needed, justice in terms of the survivor’s right, the innocent person’s right and the society’s point of view “seems to have escaped TT for very long.”
Al-Rawi said the system takes a long time to work and Government needed to put the pieces together, which required an executive with the mind to understand the issue and manage buy-in from the many participants, amend laws and give value for money.