National Forensic Science Authority

The National Forensic Authority (NFA)

The National Forensic AuthoritNFA is the sole regulator of Forensic practice in Zambia. It will have a Board appointed by the Minister and headed by the Executive Director, appointed by the Board. The Executive Director will advise the Minister on matters relating to Forensic science and forensic pathology. NFA will not only regulate government institutions but all players in forensics including the private sector.

Functions

(a)        issue licenses to forensic service providers;

(b)        regulate forensic service providers;

(c)        promote integrity and enhance the status of forensic services;

(d)        monitor the implementation of legislation relating to sample collection and analysis;

(e)        monitor and make proposals on the conduct and performance of forensic analysis;

(f)        monitor compliance with forensic ethical and privacy matters;

(g)        propose minimum quality standards to be implemented and maintained in performing forensic analysis; The operations of the Authority will be important in preventing the miscarriage of justice, which is, as a result of the use of faulty or un-validated scientific methods (by forensic providers both public and private) in the justice system.

(h)        promote public accountability and transparency with respect to performing forensic analysis;

(i)         promote public awareness and understanding of forensic science;

(j)         initiate and conduct forensic research;

(k)        develop and approve protocols of testing and examination methods; and

(l)         advise the Minister on matters relating to forensic science and forensic pathology.

Globally many countries have switched or are contemplating to put in place a regulator of forensic practice in order to safeguard the application of forensic science and forensic pathology for the benefit of the Criminal Justice System.

The Office of the State Forensic Pathologist (OSFP)

There will be established in the Ministry responsible for Home Affairs the OSFP, headed by the State Forensic Analyst, which will provide and support provision of Forensic Pathology (FP) and related services and, as far as practicable, supervise and co-ordinate these services in the investigation of deaths.

Functions

  1. Provide facilities and staff for the conduction of PME in relation to deaths investigated under the Inquests Act;
  2. List Forensic Pathologists/Forensic Anatomical Pathologists/ Forensic general Medical Officers (FP/FAP/FGMO) who can conduct PMEs in medicolegal death investigations;
  3. Supervise PMEs conducted by the FP/FAP/FGMO;
  4. Obtain samples for chemical, toxicological or genetic analysis, microbiological and histological examination, and any other necessary investigations;
  5. Identify by radiological or odonatological examination or other means, the remains of a deceased person;
  6. Conduct other appropriate investigations or examinations in relation to the cause of death of any person;
  7. Properly document and record findings and results of investigations and examinations;
  8. Prepare a report of post-mortem examination findings;
  9. Provide PME reports to coroners and the Zambia Police Service and other Government agencies and private persons;
  10. Conduct training in medicolegal death investigation to FP/FAP/FGMO listed to conduct a PME;
  11. Conduct research in medicolegal death investigations;
  12. Promote public awareness on medicolegal death investigation;
  13. Ensure the provision of FP services to the Zambia Police Service and other Government agencies and private persons;
  14. Ensure the provision of FP services in mass disasters including
    • retrieving and reconstructing bodies and fragmented bodies decently;
    • establishing personal identity;
    • conducting PMEs on some or all of those bodies;
    • establishing the cause of death to assist in reconstructing the cause of the disaster;
    • obtaining material for toxicological analysis, especially alcohol and carbon monoxide, where appropriate; and
    • seeking evidence of the cause of the disaster from autopsy examination, such as bomb or detonator fragments that may be embedded in the bodies; and
  1. o) Facilitate the removal of tissue and disposal, in accordance with the Human Tissue Act from deceased persons in which a coroner has jurisdiction to investigate the death.

The Functions of the OSFP in relation to Post-mortems (PM) and other examinations shall

  1. Ensure that a preliminary PME is performed;
  2. Report the results of the preliminary PME to the coroner and the investigating police officer;
  3. Keep a record of the preliminary PME;
  4. Ensure that an identification procedure is performed;
  5. Report the results of the identification procedure to the coroner and investigating police officer; and
  6. Keep a record of the identification procedure.

The OSFP shall in exercise of its functions

  1. Collect, use and disclose personal information and health information; and
  2. Advise the Coroner and Zambia Police Service and other Government agencies and private persons as to whether a death requires further investigation.

The National Forensic Science and Biometrics Department (NFSB)

The NFSB will offer forensic science and biometric services independent of the law enforcement agencies and will be the country’s Forensic Science Centre of Excellence.  The department will be under the Ministry of Home Affairs headed by the State Forensic Analyst, appointed by the Public Service Commission.

The department will be responsible for the provision of forensic science and biometric services to law enforcement agencies and other state institutions.

Functions

  • analyse forensic samples for law enforcement agencies and other state institutions;
  • provide Forensic Science and Biometric services to law enforcement agencies;
  • offer training in the collection, packaging, transportation, preservation, and the chain of custody, of forensic evidence to law enforcement agencies, medical personnel and any other person that collects forensic evidence for examination;
  • develop and validate biometric systems for forensic investigations;
  • create and maintain forensic science databases.
  • manage crime, scenes in collaboration with the responsible law enforcement agency;
  • conduct research in the field of forensic science; and
  • promote public awareness on forensic science investigations.

The functions of the department will be important in improving the investigation processes and the Justice system, as they will be provided with physical evidence cardinal in corroborating testimonial evidence from victims and/or witnesses.