Tue | Jul 17, 2018

Letter of the Day: Don't invent problems from DNA solutions

Published:Wednesday | May 20, 2015 | 12:00 AM


The explanation given by Bert Samuels for his opposition to the DNA law ('Why I oppose DNA law', Sunday Gleaner, May 10, 2015) is not convincing.

At the beginning of his column, he states that an accused cannot be compelled to give any assistance to the police or other organs of the State. This is clearly not correct. The police routinely get a warrant to search an accused's premises and to take away such articles as computers and filing cabinets, which they believe may contain evidence pertinent to the case being investigated. The accused cannot refuse to allow the police entry to his premises without committing an offence by doing so.

The protection that the accused has is that the police cannot search his premises without convincing a judge that there is good reason to think that the premises contain evidence that will assist in bringing the case to a conclusion.

Undoubtedly, there are cases where the police are corrupt and seek to have an accused convicted, even when they lack conclusive evidence. However, the remedy for that problem lies with removing corrupt police from the force. It does not lie with depriving the whole force of the tools they need to do their job.

As Mr Samuels says later in the article, "DNA is the most conclusive, potent evidence known to man." As a result, any legal system that claims that seeking justice for the various parties involved in a case is its goal must make use of it. The aim must be to ensure that it is used in a fair and honest way. After all, the objective of the legal system is to seek justice; it is not to ensure that no accused who can afford a good lawyer ever gets convicted.

In my view, especially given how non-invasive the DNA tests are, it is crucial that DNA evidence be used whenever it is available. If the accused's lawyer is convinced that the police or the prosecution are being dishonest in their use of the tests, it is part of his job to convince the judge or the jury that that is the case.

There has to be some balance between the interests of State and the accused. The accused cannot be hedged around with so many impediments that it is almost impossible to convict him.