Muna Al Fuzai
Muna Al Fuzai

The DNA law is raising considerable controversy in the Kuwaiti society these days, because some fear the consequences of the actual implementation of this law. Some stand in the middle between supporters and opponents of this law for various reasons, such as legal and social. Others are worried about personal freedoms and forcing innocent people to undergo genetic tests by the force of law that punishes noncompliance with imprisonment and fines. It’s not an easy matter. Kuwait will be the first Arab and Gulf state to make DNA tests compulsory on everyone. What is the purpose of this comprehensive test?

Before the implementation of this law and the preparations by the Interior Ministry, a legal objection was submitted against the law. Lawyer Adel Abdulhadi believes the law violates the constitution and violates the privacy of individuals and citizens. The Washington Post labeled the DNA law as “a major attack on genetic privacy”that seriously jeopardizes the international reputation of Kuwait.

The DNA test is acceptable in cases of suspected crimes and is required for accuracy. But, this law is raising a debate on how it will actually be enforced, and whether it will force all people who live in Kuwait to undergo the tests in order to create a new database. The Ministry of Interior has issued several statements confirming that this law has specific conditions and it will be for the safety and security of the people and the country. Electronic passports of citizens will be associated with a DNA test gradually for the creation of a database to assist in the verification of the Kuwaiti nationality rule.

Director of the Human Rights Association in Kuwait, lawyer Mohammed Hamidi, rejects the DNA law, stressing that it is a violation of international law and privacy. He notes that the law, approved by parliament earlier, forces all citizens and residents to undergo DNA tests, and the law imposes imprisonment and fines for those who violate it.

Those who reject this law see Kuwait as the only state that imposes DNA tests on everyone, away from international conventions, particularly European and US courts that rejected its universal application on the basis of respect for individual liberty, and human rights organizations that reject encroachment on the freedom of individuals as well as possible exploitation that can occur.

So implementing the law is not easy at all, in addition to the international predicted reactions against Kuwait by diplomats and visitors. But I support the application of this test to solve mysterious crimes, particularly related to terrorism or murder, especially in cases of decomposed bodies to learn more about the deceased, for the detection of lineage in family disputes in court or for verifying genealogy to obtain Kuwaiti nationality. The implementation of this law will not be an easy process and it may take longer than expected and by categories.

By Muna Al-Fuzai
muna@kuwaittimes.net