Press Statement by Charles Santiago in Klang on Wednesday, 17th September 2008:
Online Petition – reject the draconian DNA Identification Bill 2008
Klang MP Charles Santiago has launched an online petition to urge concerned citizen reject the draconian DNA Identification Bill 2008. The web address of the petition is on http://www.petitiononline.com/dnabill
On 17th August, 2008 the Barisan Nasional government introduced the controversial DNA Identification Bill in Parliament. It gives excessive powers to the Malaysian police and the Minister of Home Affairs over the use of a person’s DNA in criminal offences.
The Bill violates the principles of natural justice and human rights. In fact, the Bill does not outline safeguards or measures in protecting the fundamental rights of people while in custody. There is a fear that DNA evidence can be manipulated for political purposes.
The Bill was passed in principle on 28th August, 2008. The opposition staged a walkout to protest the Minister of Home Affairs’ refusal to refer the Bill to a select committee for further evaluation.
The draconian bill has to be rejected by all Malaysians. If the Bill becomes Law, our freedom and rights will be further curtailed and violated.
What can you do?
Please go to http://www.petitiononline.com/dnabill and sign on to the petition to demonstrate your protest against this draconian law.
10 Reasons – Why reject the Draconian DNA Identification Bill 2008
1. A senior police officer will head the DNA databank and will be given arbitrary and wide powers to collect DNA samples from suspected individuals. The collection, storage and testing of samples should be the responsibility of a body that is independent of the police force, and which reports to Parliament. The police force has lost its independence and professionalism, thus DNA samples could be manipulated by the State for political purposes.
2. The DNA Bill seeks to collect, process and store personal and highly sensitive information regarding persons. A Data Protection Act needs to be put in place before a DNA Bill is introduced and the Federal Constitution needs to be amended to add the guarantee of the right to privacy. The privacy of individuals must be protected before the enactment of the DNA Act.
3. The DNA evidence cannot be challenged in court. The Bill states that the “DNA databank shall be admissible a conclusive proof of the DNA identification in any proceedings in court”. This violates the principal of natural justice because the court will not be able to independently and objectively assess the DNA evidence. Accused persons will not be able to challenge the DNA evidence.
4. There is no mechanism for a person to challenge or request an independent review of his or her DNA sample or evidence.
5. The information in the DNA databank could be changed and manipulated easily without knowledge of the donor of the DNA sample as there are no safeguards in the Bill.
6. The categories of persons from whom DNA samples may be taken from are too arbitrary and wide as those who are held under preventive detention laws or drug rehabilitation orders and not under investigation for any offence may also be asked to provide their samples.
7. The police may “use all means necessary” to collect non-intimate samples such as saliva, hair and nail etc. What does “use all means necessary” imply when an individual is in police custody?
8. Individuals who refuse to give non-intimate samples or obstruct the collection of non-intimate samples commit a crime and upon conviction can be fined up to RM 10,000 or imprisoned for up to one year.
9. There are no specified regulations for quality control or legal safeguards in the Bill in relation to the collection, handling, storage and testing of DNA samples and profiles.
10. There is no guarantee that the DNA samples or information will be destroyed and removed from the DNA databank after the person is cleared or acquitted of the offence which he/she was suspected of committing.
* Charles Santiago, MP for Klang
The statement above is taken from http://votecharles.wordpress.com/.