Minister of National Security, Hon. Peter Bunting, says the use of Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) evidence is a critical weapon in the fight against crime.
Minister Bunting, who was opening the debate on the DNA Evidence Act, 2015 in the House of Representatives yesterday (June 16), said the usefulness of DNA lies in the fact that it is the most powerful tool available for identification in forensic investigation.
He noted that because of its ability to link physical evidence found at a crime scene to a single person, DNA is often referred to as a digital fingerprint.
“This method is so precise that it can ensure pinpoint accuracy, down to one in a billion. DNA exists in every cell of the human body such as hair and tears, and these can be shed or deposited while committing a crime. That means it is often the only means for accurate identification,” Mr. Bunting said.
The DNA Bill provides for the compulsory taking of DNA samples from suspects and convicted persons.
“It seeks to anchor in statute, a framework for the regulation, for the taking of DNA material for forensic investigation and for human identification,” Mr. Bunting said, noting that there are safeguards in relation to the rights of children and protected persons.
He noted further that the Bill outlines and establishes procedures for collection, retention and preservation of DNA samples, provides for the destruction or the retention of DNA profiles, and it also establishes offences and penalties for breaches of the Act.
These include falsifying any profile, swapping DNA samples or DNA profile with intent to deceive, and tampering with a container or package containing DNA samples of profiles.
The legislation also provides for the keeping, maintaining, and operating of a consolidated forensic DNA databank, to be known as the National DNA Register, for the purposes of forensic investigation and human identification.
Minister Bunting told the House that the Bill is the third major piece of path-breaking legislation that has been put forward by the Ministry in the last three years.
He also cited the Law Reform (Fraudulent Transactions) (Special Provisions) Act 2013, popularly known as the Anti-Lottery Scam and the Criminal Justice (Suppression of Criminal Organisations) 2014 Act, otherwise called the Anti-Gang Legislation.
Debate on the Bill will continue at the next sitting of the House of Representatives.