Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Criminal inconsistency

A bill currently before select committee reads;

Criminal Investigations (Bodily Samples) Amendment Bill

The purpose of the bill is to allow Police wide powers to collect DNA from persons before being charged or convicted, such as matching DNA profiles against samples from unsolved scenes of crime.

As it stands the law allows forced sampling from people who are judged 'guilty on accusation' (charged) and politicians, under pressure from the police and tough-on-law-and-order advocates, want to extend that to 'guilty on suspicion'.

The government and its support party, however, are able to discern the wrongness of the 'guilty on accusation' presumption in respect of copyright law and have scrapped the proposed changes.

If they were consistent they would also drop this bill. I am very uncomfortable when I read 'wide powers' and 'police' in the same sentence.


Anonymous said...

The opposition to DNA sampling seems to focus on privacy. This is not my major concern.

If a person holds a grievance against another person, it is relatively easy to obtain a sample of their DNA. Such a sample can be placed at a crime scene by anyone who has legal access (police, photographers, pathologists, etc.). If the grievance holder is such a person, or can influence any of those people via bribery, blackmail, intimidation, family relations, friends, or any other means - then miscarriages of justice will occur. I believe this to be inevitable.

My gravest concern is that the state and it's agencies will use this tactic to imprison critics. The current government may justifiably say that it is ridiculous to suspect that they would do such a thing. However, they will only be the government for a short time. A future government may be very grateful that this bunch of buffoons have unwittingly provided them with such an effective means of controlling dissident voices.

Dave Christian

MikeE said...

I'd be happy if the DNA was destroyed if the suspect was found not guilty.

Anonymous said...

This is a tricky one....as Dave has said it can leave the door open to all sorts of unpleasent outcomes.Considering people already have been hounded because someone else simply used their name for dodgy purposes it doesn't take a major laep to see how DNA planting could have massive implications if carried out by the criminally minded...especially if they are politicians..