Sorenson Forensics has announced that as part of an unprecedented public-private partnership, three forensic scientists from Zambia have travelled to its Utah-based lab for six weeks of intensive, hands-on training, marking the first step in launching the African country’s first-ever forensic DNA lab.
The partnership was formed between the Georgian Foundation, four ministries of Zambian government and Sorenson Forensics, and aims to reduce the incidence of child sexual abuse through the establishment of an accredited forensic DNA laboratory in the Republic of Zambia.
While working at the Sorenson Forensics lab, the scientists from Zambia’s Ministry of Home Affairs will receive valuable training on new forensic procedures, such as DNA analysis, that they can take with them when they return home.
Sorenson Forensics is a private forensic DNA laboratory built on a foundation of collaborative forensics, and was selected to be a part of this initiative because of its stellar reputation of providing DNA casework services for federal, state and local crime laboratories, as well as its experience in developing forensic DNA laboratories in other African countries.
After the six-week intensive training period, scientists from Sorenson Forensics will travel to Zambia to begin helping with the next phase of the project to establish the country’s first forensic DNA laboratory facilities.
The lab will help law enforcement agencies increase the effectiveness of prosecuting child sexual assault cases through the collection and timely processing of forensic DNA evidence.
“It is an honor to participate in such an important undertaking,” said Craig Nolde, biotechnical solutions manager at Sorenson Forensics. “There is a definite need for improved forensic resources in Zambia, and because our lab is equipped with the most advanced methods for forensic DNA analysis, we are able to provide guest scientists with a comprehensive education in casework processes and procedures. Over the next six weeks we will build a solid foundation upon which these talented scientists will be able to participate in creating a successful forensic DNA lab in Zambia.”
“Child sexual abuse and gender-based violence are all too prevalent in Zambia, and currently we don’t have any DNA capabilities to meet the forensic needs to process the forensic biology cases,” said Katongo Chipompo, assistant commissioner of police – forensic unit. “After two years of planning, we are excited to be here and begin the training to create the new lab so we will be able to better help law enforcement bring justice to the victims of these crimes and start to eradicate this horrible epidemic.”
Sorenson Forensics has extensive experience providing this level of outreach and education to international forensic scientists, having played a critical role in helping to establish similar forensic DNA labs in both Nigeria and Senegal. Additionally, Sorenson Forensics has previously been involved in improving Zambia’s ability to more successfully prosecute criminal actions through the use of forensic evidence. In 2011, as part of a global outreach program, Sorenson Forensics hosted a group of forensic scientists, police agents and human rights advocates from Zambia so they could gain a greater understanding of the procedures of a forensic DNA laboratory.