[JURIST] The Constitutional Council of France [official website] Thursday approved a controversial amendment to an immigration law [text; dossier, both in French] that would allow voluntary DNA testing to establish family ties between recent immigrants and relatives already living in France. The Council also rejected an amendment that would have allowed for the collection of ethnic data to promote diversity. The French Parliament passed [JURIST report] the immigration bill in October, and it will take effect after French President Nicolas Sarkozy [official website, in French] signs it and it is published in the official register.
The bill was passed by French Senate [official website] in a 185-136 vote last month after French Immigration Minister Brice Hortefeux [official profile, in French] made last-minute changes [Reuters report] to the DNA test section and the lower parliamentary house, the National Assembly [official website], passed the bill 282-235. Under the version adopted, the tests will be optional, sponsored by the state, will test only an applicant's maternal side so as to avoid potential disputes over paternity and will require the approval of a magistrate. Earlier versions of the bill [JURIST report] provided for mandatory testing. The DNA tests are meant primarily to verify family ties to French residents for potential immigrants who lack family records and to speed up the immigration process, but that provision has proved highly controversial. Critics argue that genetics should not be used to determine citizenship eligibility and opposition lawmakers have promised to challenge the law before France's Constitutional Court. AP has more.