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Induction of medicolegal officers to strengthen criminal justice system.

Byline: Ashfaq Yusufzai

PESHAWAR -- The health department is working on a plan to put in place specialised medicolegal services at the divisional level to ensure prompt dispensation of justice on scientific lines, according to officials.

On January 9, the department accorded approval to separate cadre for medicolegal officers (MLOs), who would be responsible only for autopsies, age determination, examination of victims of sexual assault and injured people besides other cases to strengthen criminal justice system.

'A comprehensive plan is being developed that will be included in the next year's Annual Development Programme,' said officials. As of now, the general medical officers perform these duties in addition to their primary responsibilities of providing treatment to patients at the hospitals.

Officials said that health department created a new cadre under which about 213 doctors would be inducted as MLOs. 'We are in the process to make a proper service structure for MLOs and cost of equipments and other staff to pave way for launching of the new cadre,' they said.

Health dept's plan to be included in next year's ADP

So far, the general medical officers examine the cases involving male and female. Under the new system, services of female MLOs would be made available to cope with the issues of women in line with the local traditions.

The department wants to put in place forensic science departments at divisional level where doctors with FCPS degree in forensic sciences and toxicology and diploma in medical jurisprudence will be appointed. They will also impart training to the junior people joining the cadre.

Officials said they were working on a plan to attract the doctors to the newly-created field by extending incentives and chances of promotion to them.

Forensic science is a state subject, which is required to assist the courts by virtue of scientific investigations to ensure quick justice to the people. Other specialties like medicines, surgery, ENT, gynea etc deal with the public while forensic science is a state subject dealing with the criminal justice system.

'Once we develop the MLO cadre, then doctors would pursue specialisation in the forensic sciences. Too often, the courts express anger over incorrect investigations done by the general cadre medical officers because they have no experience,' said officials.

They said that the plan also included upgradation of the existing facilities at divisional level. They said that Khyber Medical College (KMC), which had a full-fledged department, would play supervisory role in translating the plan into reality.

Officials said that KMC had specialists, who were imparting training to 10 doctors in medical jurisprudence and could be deployed at divisional level to expedite the plan. They said that KMC would impart training to the doctors, who would be appointed as MLOs at the district hospitals.

Health department wants to strengthen the forensic services to a level where investigation starts from the crime scene like the practice in developed countries. The plan is aimed at streamlining criminal justice system through appointment of experts, who can give correct opinion in cases and assist the courts. At a later stage, the medical colleges in all divisions would start offering postgraduate training to doctors in forensic sciences.

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Publication:Dawn (Karachi, Pakistan)
Date:Jan 17, 2018
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