U.S. Ambassador Michele J. Sison visited the new laboratory complex of the Sri Lanka Ministry of Justice Government Analyst’s Department (GAD) in Battaramulla on June 6. The U.S. Government through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the U.S. Department of Justice, entered into a $2.1 million (265 million rupee) U.S. Government-funded Forensic Assistance Program agreement with GAD in 2011 to establish a state-of-the-art DNA crime laboratory.
During her visit, Ambassador Sison said, “This grant delivered a state-of-the-art DNA crime laboratory as well as equipment to support firearms examination and drug and toxicology analysis. This project is a tangible demonstration for U.S. support to strengthen rule of law in Sri Lanka.”
The program will provide Sri Lankan citizens with greater access to justice by enhancing legitimate prosecutions of criminals. The DNA laboratory will develop Sri Lanka’s DNA analysis capability and make a significant contribution to the technical enhancement of the country’s criminal justice system. The grant also included an $80,000 (10 million rupee) bullet recovery tank for the firearms laboratory to discharge weapons safely and easily recover the bullets and casings for forensic comparisons, and a $225,000 (28 million rupee) toxicology lab with analytical tools to assist in drug, toxicology and trace evidence analysis. The program also facilitated training in the U.S. for 6 Sri Lankan GAD scientists at Oklahoma State University, which has an internationally renowned forensics research and training program.
The laboratory will be functional for tests required for court cases by mid-August 2013 and GAD scientists will continue to receive on the job technical training from U.S. experts until December 2013.