Illegal in Europe to retain DNA of innocent persons


Did you know that in December 2008 the European Court of Human Rights has ruled that it is illegal for the government to retain DNA profiles and fingerprints belonging to two men never convicted of any crime. Jude Umeh made a posting on his blog about the “Virtual Shadows” book launch which he attended, which gave me the link for this ruling. So thanks Jude 🙂

The landmark decision could mean the more than 570,000 DNA profiles in the National DNA Database belonging to innocent individuals will have to be deleted. Police in England, Wales and Northern Ireland currently have powers to take DNA and fingerprints from everyone they arrest regardless of the seriousness of their crime, or if they are prosecuted. This includes minors. This ruling is well overdue!

In its ruling, the Grand Chamber said retention of innocent people’s DNA profile was a violation of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Article 8 states: “Everyone has the right for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence.

The 17 judges wrote: “The Court was struck by the blanket and indiscriminate nature of the power of retention in England and Wales. In particular, the data in question could be retained irrespective of the nature or gravity of the offence with which the individual was originally suspected or of the age of the suspected offender; the retention was not time-limited; and there existed only limited possibilities for an acquitted individual to have the data removed from the nationwide database or to have the materials destroyed.”

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