DNA testing is back

Muna Al Fuzai

The issue of DNA testing was the subject of controversy in Kuwait last year between supporters and opponents, when there was a proposal to impose it on all citizens and expats and store their genetic data with local authorities. The law was seen as a violation of international laws and the constitution of Kuwait. The proposed law was stopped by a decision by HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah for review in accordance with constitutional principles that safeguard the right of privacy.

The proposed law also imposed penalties of imprisonment and fines for violators. No country in the world imposes DNA tests on citizens and residents without a reason, and this is seen as going against international and humanitarian conventions, especially as European and US courts have banned its implementation over respect for freedom of individuals.
Recently, the parliamentary interior and defense committee returned to discuss a new bill to amend the DNA test law. The head of the committee explained that they are still discussing the establishment of a new law for the best application of DNA testing on four categories of people -criminals, families of missing persons, unidentified bodies and persons wishing to obtain citizenship. He noted that the panel has not made a final decision on the bill, and is still waiting for more clarification from the government.

The Cabinet and lawmakers have understood the importance of patience before approving laws that harm Kuwait constitutionally and internationally. The determination of the categories in the law can be adapted to reality. In the case of criminals, will the DNA test law include all suspects, or only those who have been arrested for specific crimes such as murder? Will it be applied only on those convicted by a final verdict? Will the DNA test be mandatory or voluntary? As for missing people and unidentified bodies, the need for DNA tests is normal to identify them and is universally applied.
The last category includes those who want to proceed with citizenship procedures. This category is the one targeted by this law to prevent forgery and false affiliation. There have been a lot of cases lately of people who falsified nationality data and gave their names to children who were not related by blood for money.

Therefore, the obligation of DNA testing for those who wish to complete the citizenship process is important. No request of such nature should be completed and accepted without a DNA test. Reports of nationality forgers have increased recently and it is necessary to search for ways to stop the recurrence of such crimes, which have done significant damage to the community.

With the new DNA law, the government will be able to punish those who violate the law and falsify data in order to obtain Kuwaiti citizenship. They must be stripped of the advantages that come with the Kuwaiti nationality. The old law will not come back and the new one if approved will not touch everyone.

By Muna Al-Fuzai
muna@kuwaittimes.net

 

This article was published on 15/06/2017