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DNA database, law risky - attorney

Published: Sunday December 8, 2013 | 6:48 pm Comments 0
File - Defense attorney Bert Samuels
File - Defense attorney Bert Samuels

Attorney-at-law Bert Samuels says a proposal by former police crime chief, Mark Shields, to establish a database with the accompanying laws authorising the collection of DNA samples of suspects could be risky.

Shields, writing in today's Sunday Gleaner, suggested that the police should first seek to establish a DNA database along with getting the necessary legislation implemented before enacting the new anti-gang law.

According to Shields, a DNA database established through legislation and in the control of the Forensic Lab would create the foundation for effective implementation of the anti-gang legislation.

The former Scotland Yard sleuth argues that there is compelling evidence in many jurisdictions across the world that good DNA analysis can help to improve the cleared-up rate for crimes, especially burglary.

But Samuels contends that both the proposed DNA and anti-gang laws may affect the liberty and freedom of people. Samuels says taking a DNA sample from a suspect may be dangerous because of the uncertainty surrounding its use by the police.

The well-known defense lawyer points out that the risk of one's DNA being planted at a crime scene is a reality in Jamaica and says it is within this context that taking samples from a suspect may also constitute a breach of a person's rights under the constitution.

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