PI, Genewatch and the Council for Responsible Genetics launch the Forensic Genetic Policy Initiative
Today, 60 countries worldwide operate national DNA databases, and at least 34 more are considering putting them in place. The use of DNA evidence in criminal investigations can bring great benefits to society, helping to solve crimes, convict the guilty and exonerate the innocent. However, the mass storage of DNA samples and computerized profiles in databases raises important human rights concerns. Your DNA profile can be used to track you or your relatives. Your DNA sample has the potential to reveal predispositions towards certain illnesses and behaviours, as well as the current state of your health. This is not an issue restricted to convicted criminals; as the practice of collecting and storing DNA samples from those arrested but never convicted of even minor offences increases, innocent people all over the world are being added to databases.
The Forensic Genetics Policy Initiative seeks to set international standards for DNA databases that respect and protect human rights. It will focus on building civil society's capacity to engage in the policy-making processes that govern the development of national and international databases, and the cross-border sharing of genetic information. The legitimate needs of law enforcement and respect for individual rights and liberties are not mutually exclusive - it is crucial that we find the middle ground, before we fundamentally alter the relationship between citizen and state.