UCC holds third annual Forensic Seminar

(Image source: University of Cape Coast website)

Every year the University of Cape Coast holds a forensic science seminar to educate the University community and the general public about the significance of forensic science in Ghana. The third annual Forensic Seminar of the University was organized on Monday April 18, 2016 at the School of Medical Sciences Auditorium, UCC. This year’s event was the first since the establishment of the UCC Department of Forensic Sciences. The theme was on “The Relevance of Forensic Science in National Security.”

Dr. Richmond Afoakwah, Head of the Department of Forensic Sciences, explained that the purpose of the seminar is to impart knowledge on participants and highlight the significance of forensic science in Ghana. He stated that the Department hopes to make the annual seminar an African-wide and a global lecture series in future.

Professor George Oduro, Pro-Vice Chancellor and Chairman of the event, stated that there is a forensic science component of almost everything we do and forensic science is part of everyday life. He explained that forensic science is about critical understanding of situations. He stated that the increase in crime and terrorism indicates that there is a need to attach more importance to forensic science in Ghana.

Dr. Emmanuel Kwesi Aning, Director of the Faculty of Academic Affairs and Research at the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre, gave a lecture on the theme of the event. In his speech, he stated that the national security of Ghana seems to be placed on voodoo/spiritual consultations rather than science. He stressed on the need to negotiate for the application of forensic science in national security. In his discussion, he explained that “security discourses have shifted over time to now include new sectors made up of the military, economic issues, political issues, societal issues and environmental issues.” He cited the Fulani incident in Ghana as an example of a security issue that cuts across both economic and environmental security. He described forensic science as the application of scientific knowledge, methodologies and technologies in solving criminal and civil legal problems in the justice system. He emphasised that forensic science enhances justice, detects and monitors threat and supports the justice system.

He explained that forensic science and national security converge in events such as floods, fire outbreaks, vehicular accidents and crime. Using the June 3 2015 flood and fire disaster that killed over 120 people as an example, he stated that forensic science can be used to identify disaster victims. He also cited the recent murder incident of Hon. J.B. Danquah-Adu where forensic evidence could be used to support prosecution of the crime. He recommended that forensic scientists should be an integral part of the first officers attending an incident scene. He explained that this approach, rather than a military focused approach, will help the police recover evidence and avoid unnecessary contamination or damage of evidence.

During the question-and-answer session, Dr. Richmond Afoakwah declared that the BSc Forensic Science program at the Department of Forensic Sciences is no longer a fee-paying program. The Department will also start sandwich courses for security personnel in the country from next academic year.

Among those in attendance at the 2016 Seminar were Mr. John Kofi Nyan, Registrar, UCC; Professor Samuel Yeboah Mensah, Provost of the College of Agriculture and Natural Sciences, UCC; Professor Johnson Nyarko Boampong, Dean of the School of Biological Sciences, UCC; and Professor David Kofi Essumang, Dean of the School of Physical Sciences, UCC. Also in attendance were the Forensic Science Society of Ghana (FSSGH) national officers ACP David Agyemang Adjem, President; Mr. Dan Nana Osei Mensah Bonsu, Vice President; and Mr. Aaron Opoku Amankwaa, Secretary.

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