18 July 2015

Kuwait's DNA Profiling

Kuwait is reported to be introducing a law that mandates on DNA registration of all 1.3 million Kuwaiti citizens and 2.9 million expatriates, with the national database expected to be complete by September next year.

Registration will be underpinned by a penalty of one-year imprisonment, a US$33,000 fine or both for those who refuse to undergo DNA testing. Provision of a fraudulent sample  will attract a penalty of seven years' imprisonment.

It is unclear whether the biological sample will involve blood or skin cells.

Registration will supposedly "contribute to increased security in the society and justice through quicker identification of culprits", apparently through quicker identification of alleged terrorists who are in custody.

A mandatory population-scale database of people who have not been convicted of a crime is problematical.

In the UK the salient judgment is S and Marper v United Kingdom [2008] ECHR 1581, in which the European Court of Human Rights ruled in 2008 that permanent retention of a non-criminal's DNA sample under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 "could not be regarded as necessary in a democratic society", was disproportionate and was contrary to Article 8 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. The Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 sought to limit the scope of the DNA database - in essence restriction to people convicted of serious crimes - and comply with the Marper ruling.