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Russia president signs criminal DNA database bill into law

[JURIST] Russian President Dmitry Medvedev [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] Friday signed into law legislation authorizing the creation of a DNA database for convicted criminals, according to reports. Under the law, passed by the State Duma [Kommersant report] on November 19 and approved by the Council of Federation on November 26, authorities are allowed to collect and retain DNA [AP report] from prisoners convicted of serious violent crimes, including murder and rape. The new legislation is expected to draw opposition from rights groups and advocates, who claim that the database is an invasion of privacy.

A number of other countries have instituted similar criminal DNA databases. In April, the US Department of Justice announced that it would begin collecting DNA samples [JURIST report] from every person arrested under federal laws. The UK National DNA Database [Home Office backgrounder] collects and retains DNA information from criminal suspects upon their arrest. The European Court of Human Rights unanimously ruled Thursday that the British practice of keeping the fingerprints and DNA profiles of people arrested but not convicted of crimes was against privacy rights [JURIST report] and should not continue. In 2005, the government of Sweden proposed a law [JURIST report] that would establish a program similar to the UK scheme, authorizing the collection of DNA from criminal suspects, but under the Swedish scheme samples are destroyed upon acquittal.

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