As I climbed the ladder of self-awareness and sailed through the canal of existence that defines who a Ghanaian is, Kwame Nkrumah’s words of ‘’Now the battle has ended, Ghana my beloved country is free forever’’ and Ghana’s motto, Freedom and Justice continually reverberates through my mind.
I continue to ask myself, what freedoms these statements are referring to. Freedom from colonialism or freedom to live, have wealth, liberty, shelter and even more as enshrined in the constitution of Ghana?
Living in Ghana as a wealthy person can easily cause your death. Joining a particular group or particular party could easily lead you the way of your ancestors.
People are killed for no tangible reasons as if there should be one for the taking of human life.
In our bedrooms, we are killed by armed robbers and serial killers, in the hospitals we die as a result of negligence and on the streets by accidents. We continue to attribute everything to God, Holy Spirit and the rest while we lose our loved ones, families, and nation builders as well as put ourselves in danger. Then we say let’s leave it to God and that ends it.
Over the past year, there have been more than ten killings involving prominent personalities as a result of what has been termed ‘’contract killing’’. Last time it was a banker, next was a showbiz man, political leaders, security personnel and now a member of parliament just to mention a few.
The noise continues, everyone is talking about it, relatives are mourning, well-wishers are crying all because of the act of two or three people and others who are perhaps walking freely along the length and breadth of the republic.
Cases of murder have occurred since time immemorial, some have been linked to politicians and political parties, and some linked to the wrong people. We still find our lives in shambles and it seems we’ve not found the panacea for our troubles. Assurance upon assurance from the police and successive governments, yet we continue to lose our loved ones and breadwinners without any significant actions taken in identifying and punishing the perpetrators.
However this quote and the cause of the numerous strides in forensic science is everywhere.
“Wherever he steps, whatever he touches, whatever he leaves, even unconsciously, will serve as a silent witness against him. Not only his fingerprints or his footprints, but his hair, the fibers from his clothes, the glass he breaks, the tool marks he leaves, the paint he scratches, the blood or semen he deposits or collects. All of these and more bear mute witness against him. This is evidence that does not forget. It is not confused by the excitement of the moment. It is not absent because human witnesses are. It is factual evidence. Physical evidence cannot perjure itself, it cannot be wholly absent. Only human failure to find it, study and understand it, can diminish its value’’- Prof Locard Emond (1877 – 1966).
Using the “every contact leaves a trace’’ principle alone could cure our injury. But it’s as if Ghana as a country is unaware of the major strides in science that continues to evolve every now and then. Or we just have to sit unconcerned and continue killing ourselves rendering the country into a state of pandemonium.
My exposure to forensic science through a short course and laboratory medicine for that matter, has equipped me with the many developments in criminology and modern studies in crime investigations, notwithstanding the scenes from CSI series, 24, Columbiana movies and others. CSI series has been on our screens for years and I thought we should have made some sense out of it by now.
However, that is not the case for Ghana. Criminal investigations in cases of murder have been well studied and most countries are benefiting from its breakthroughs. It integrates the services of forensic medics, laboratory scientists, crime scene analysts and even more, depending on the case. It involves identification, analysing (laboratory or logical) and interpreting findings in the court of law to better evidence against suspects.
Just analysing the crime scene by experts alone can secure us twenty per cent chance of identifying the criminal. The issue of blood spatter at crime scenes are very informative.
Not to talk of the finger prints that will be left on walls, door handles, or on the deceased. This finger print can be obtained and identified by experts and run across any of the Data bases of finger prints we have in this country, that’s if we have anything like that. Be it the voter registration, SSNIT registration, health insurance or the national identification data base, and we will get something meaningful out of it. Except someone can tell me these data bases are existing on paper alone.
It is undeniably the case that, killing by stabbing usually comes with a struggle. Under the finger nails of the deceased will contain enough scraping for investigation.
The scraping will contain millions of DNA of the killer and can be used to classify suspects and finally identify them. Since Ghana does not have a data base of DNA for its citizens, the DNA of all suspects will be analysed and compared to what is obtained from the scrapings.
There is a high chance that anyone who’s DNA matches the one from the scraping would be the likely killer. This can also help in skewing investigation towards specific persons and help speed police investigation.
It is also the case that, in most struggling scenarios, those criminals leave some of their belonging at the crime scene. When experts are brought in, they can identify tiny wools and fibres of suspect’s clothes.
These fibres can be investigated and with effective integration, we can identify the manufacturer of the cloth, and the supplier which gives clear direction to the suspects to be investigated. With thorough investigations, this alone can identify the class of persons who might have worn that cloth. The police can then make a solid and result-oriented investigation even if it will take years. After all, criminal cases do not expire in terms of prosecution and the perpetrators should be identified and brought to book.
The issue with Ghana is not with the tracings criminals leave, but how to identify, investigate and put meaning to them. Sometimes we easily identify them but render them insignificant. The case of the recent murder has seen a half sandal been held in evidence. Blood traces have also been tendered in evidence but we continue to look for the criminal. Why? Because we do not have the capacity to analyse them and put meaning to them.
Candidly, the procedures and investigation required are not easily operationalized and it needs a committed government and institutions to help build the infrastructure.
Ghana, with a population of about 25 million human beings needs to have a properly furnished and furbished police lab as well as a forensic laboratory for proper analyses and investigations. How can a country that leaves its young scientists gallivanting around in the streets seeking for job in chop bars, junior high schools, and some miniature ventures excel in this regard?
Continually relying on the current police form of investigation; the consultation and bullying method, will subject Ghanaians to nothing better than unsolved crimes. We always leave the evidence behind, pick some people, and nothing comes out of it.
I know for sure the Ghana Police Service is not in the capacity to investigate most of the criminal issues that occur in Ghana. But they continue to assure us, as if that is what we must hear, yet aren’t able to identify criminals and in most cases imprison the wrong people as many documentaries and retrials have proven.
The deceit is enough. The police should come clear on the type of investigations it’s doing so that everyone with the capacity to help can render their support.
We can’t afford to lose our beloved, family and nation builders. I can’t fathom waking up one morning on the other side of the curtain only to watch my murderer walking freely with no clutches.
We hope to live in this country where our freedoms will be meaningful and not just a public outcry.
By: Kyeremeh Evans (MLS)
[email protected], 0504665859/0240352524
The writer is a Biomedical Scientist and a Medical advocate. He is currently working with a reputable health facility in Ghana.
He is a symbol of laboratory science and an epitome of professionalism.
He has a motivation to help harmonize health professions and systems to provide the needed output for patients care and satisfaction. He advocates for good medical practice and patients right. What do you know of laboratory medicine/science and your Lab test? Let’s get in touch…