Lack of forensic technology hinders justice delivery system

MASVINGO – High Court judge Justice Joseph Musakwa has bemoaned the lack of up-to-date forensic technology to get evidence mainly in murder trials, saying this has compromised the justice delivery system as suspects go scot-free while innocent suspects may be wrongly jailed.

By Tatenda Chitagu

Officially opening the Masvingo High Court circuit yesterday, Justice Musakwa said even the finger-print, palm print and foot-print identification machines were outdated.

“While our law enforcement agents are up to the task in the investigation of crime, the only blemish is the absence of up-to-date forensic technology….Even finger-print, palm print and foot-print identification technology is way behind.

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“In a number of murder and rape cases there is absence of forensic analysis of evidence gathered from the scenes of crime,” he said.

Justice Musakwa said sometimes DNA samples taken as evidence may fail to go for testing to laboratories even when the cases are under trial.

“In some cases samples taken remain untested in laboratories until the cases are tried. DNA analysis which enhances the quality of evidence before the courts is seldom resorted to, even if it can be outsourced.

“This may sometimes compromise the adequacy of evidence placed before the courts. This may result in suspects getting off the hook or innocent people being convicted,” he said.

He challenged the law enforcement agents to respect the Constitution in extracting evidence from suspects.

“It is necessary to remind those involved in the justice delivery system that the rights of detained persons and those accused of committing crimes must be respected. Such rights are elaborated in the Constitution.

“Any evidence that is obtained in violation of the constitution and may result in an unfair trial or is detrimental to the administration of justice or the public interest will be rendered inadmissible during trial,” Justice Musakwa said.

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