National DNA database

MEMBERS OF Parliament have begun debating a bill to create national civil and criminal DNA databases.

The Justice Minister, Alberto Costa, and other politicians discussed the proposal, which was approved by the Council of Ministers on May 24.

One would be a civil DNA database and would be completely voluntary for people without criminal records and the other would be a compulsory database for criminals who have committed more serious crimes, and who have been sentenced to three or more years in prison.

The criminal database will not include DNA information about victims of crimes and people who do not have criminal records and both databases can be used together to cross reference information.

Alberto Costa would like the databases to be implemented next year and said they would only be used in certain situations like in cases of missing persons and identification of bodies.

If approved, the bill will then be taken to the Constitutional Court to ensure the contents are not unconstitutional and then the President will have the final approval. Once approved the bill will return to the Parliament where the bill will be ratified and become law.

The Ethics Council for Life Sciences (CNECV) agrees with the creation of a criminal DNA database but does not believe the creation of a civil DNA database is justified. They must be tightly controlled so DNA samples are never contaminated.

The debate is likely to continue and changes to the bill will be made until a final decision has been made.

Do you have a view on this story? Email: [email protected]