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DNA tests plan to tackle crime in Bahrain

Bahrain News
Sat, 11 Nov 2017
By Mohammed Al A’Ali

PEOPLE in Bahrain could be obliged to undergo DNA tests under a proposed law that will be debated in parliament on Tuesday.

The test would be obligatory for Bahrainis, expatriates and even temporary visitors who raise the suspicion of authorities.

Parliament’s foreign affairs, defence and national security committee has recommended the move, which has also been backed by the Interior Ministry.

It is designed to aid police investigations, particularly into serious crimes and terrorism cases.

However, the Interior Ministry has stated there is currently no budget for the scheme – meaning it would only be implemented when funding is available.

It has also asked for an article giving it the right to store or dispense of DNA samples, explaining that all data would be recorded on a computer database.

The 11-article bill, originally proposed by parliament’s National Consensus Bloc, has also received support from the Supreme Islamic Council.

The Health Ministry has also backed the proposed law, but stated it should be applied on a selective basis, with the Interior Minister responsible for deciding who is tested.

It also stated in writing that access to the database should be limited and all information classified “top secret”, while bylaws were needed to make clear who would be allowed to view or review information.

The ministry added that provisions for the international exchange of people’s DNA information should be also clearly stated, while secure access was necessary to ensure people’s privacy was not jeopardised.

Those who fail to submit DNA samples would face up to a year in jail and fine of up to BD1,000.

“DNA testing will help Bahrain and the GCC, while helping other world countries, to tackle terrorism and solve serious crimes committed on a high level – besides cases that normal technologies or identification can’t determine,” said foreign affairs, defence and national security committee chairman Abdulla Bin Howail.

“A special database will be established in which all necessary information would be available through a court order or for classified operations depending on need, such as unidentified corpses.”

Kuwait became the first country in the GCC to implement the move in 2015, following a terrorist bombing at a mosque by Islamic State (IS) militants.

However, the Kuwaiti Constitutional Court last month deemed four articles in the law as unconstitutional.

mohammed@gdn.com.bh