By Tom Brady
Gardai get access to European DNA data
GARDAI are to be given new powers to allow them carry out searches of DNA databases in other EU states for criminal investigations.
In return, other police forces will to able to look through the databank here. The searching of samples will be carried out on anonymous data.
But if there is a ‘hit’, further inquiries can be pursued through the existing mutual assistance deal, already agreed by EU governments. This will allow additional information on the samples to be exchanged.
Data protection requirements currently prevent the searches on a reciprocal basis, after the database here is up and running. But Justice Minister Dermot Ahern revealed yesterday that he was working with his advisers on how those requirements should be met and said he hoped to tackle the issue shortly.
THE IRISH Human Rights Commission (IHRC) has called for the inclusion of more safeguards in the Bill allowing the establishment of a DNA database for use in criminal investigations.
The IHRC said it was essential to ensure that the Bill did not give rise to human rights violations.
The draft legislation proposes the taking of bodily samples from people suspected of committing a serious offence, as well as from those who are in prison or who have previously been imprisoned for having committed serious offences. Members of the public may also be asked to give bodily samples as “volunteers” or as part of a mass screening.
The IHRC said it acknowledged the potential of a DNA database as a tool for investigating crimes, but it called for stronger human rights protection for people who would be affected by its provisions.
IHRC president Dr Maurice Manning said the Bill had implications for protecting human rights standards, in particular the right to privacy. “The guarantee of a person’s right to privacy is fundamentally affected by the taking, retention and storage of their DNA profile on a database,” he said.