Newly launched laboratory means Rwandans won’t have to wait for three months to get a DNA

Getting a DNA testing to determine the parentage of children in Rwanda is now as easy as walking into a shop with the newly launched forensic lab complex tests in Kigali, the capital of the country, aimed at cutting down costs of conducting forensic DNA.

Rwandans will now be paying less for DNA tests in the new Kacyiru-based National Forensic Laboratory, unveiled by the Ministry of Justice on Thursday. The forensic laboratory has already started receiving requests at the cost of Rwf270,000, nearly half the price to conduct a test in foreign countries, like Germany.

Previously, to establish parentage for children or get proof for rape and other gender-based crimes among other forms of evidence, Rwanda had to order a DNA test from Germany and Belgium and the results usually took about 2- 3 months before it arrived. Meanwhile the new forensic laboratory promises a 1 day to 3 weeks waiting time to get proof of evidence.

Each DNA test sent to Belgium cost between Rwf 300,000 (about $355) to Rwf 600,000 (about $700) and more than 800 samples are sent annually. Like the Minister of Justice, Johnston Busingye, said, “Government has been spending a lot on forensic evidence. Even if all its services are not starting off today, this lab will fuel scientific based catalysts and research within Rwanda and other countries.”

According to Director of Rwanda Forensic Laboratory, François Sinayobye, “the time will be reduced to at least 24 hours if one wants a quick service and the costs will go as low as Rwf270, 000 but this will vary on the service required, amount of time and reagents needed in conducting the test.”

Built at the cost of over Rwf6 billion (about $7 million), the laboratory will also establish the authenticity of documents, the presence of drugs, alcohol, or poison in one’s blood, fingerprint analysis, autopsies, and ballistics to identify firearms in case of crimes among other tests.

The National Forensic Laboratory, which will operate as an independent agency with its own administrative system and the ability to sell services to different institutions and private individuals, says it will also extend its services to clients from foreign countries.

Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) is a thread-like chain of nucleotides carrying the genetic instructions used in the growth, development, functioning and reproduction of all known living organisms and many viruses.