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UN rights panel advises Kuwait to amend compulsory DNA testing law
UN rights panel advises Kuwait to amend compulsory DNA testing law

[JURIST] An 18-person UN human rights panel called on Kuwait Friday to amend [report, DOC] its compulsory DNA testing law. The law, a counter-terrorism measure put in place by Kuwait’s parliament in 2015, facilitated a DNA database of citizens and residents of Kuwait, and imposes a one-year sentence to anyone who refuses to provide their DNA. The panel stated the law “imposes unnecessary and disproportionate restrictions on the right to privacy.” Jamal Alghunaim, Kuwait’s ambassador to the UN argued that the law was substantially related to protecting against terrorist threats and had sufficient safeguards against persons or groups acquiring the information. The panel was not convinced with this sort of logic, though, saying that “[w]e…asked them to amend it to ensure that DNA collection is limited, only on the basis of individuals suspected of having committed serious crimes and on the basis of a court order.”

The collection and retention of DNA samples by the government and police has sparked a complex argument on procedures and ethics of such practice relative to privacy. In the US it has been a particularly difficult question to answer. In 2014 a US district court struck down [JURIST report] a California law which required anyone suspected of committing a felony to provide a DNA sample as soon as “administratively possible.” The court held that doing so before a judicial determination of probable cause was not reasonable. In 2013 the United States Supreme Court had ruled [opinion] that collecting DNA from an individual arrested for a felony was “a legitimate police booking procedure.” Some also believe that DNA collection altogether violates [JURIST commentary] the Fourth Amendment guarantee of privacy.