Three years after sparking a human rights controversy, a draft amendment to DNA sample collection regulations has reappeared after the National Police Agency (NPA) recently raised the mater with lawmakers.
The draft amendment, which has passed a preliminary review in the legislature’s Judiciary and Organic Laws and Statutes Committee, was sent back for discussion last month amid allegations the proposals would infringe on human rights.
To facilitate management of recidivist convicts, the Ministry of the Interior has tried to expand DNA sampling, which is now limited to those convicted of rape or other violent crimes, to other convicts.
Three years ago it tried to persuade the legislature to pass a draft amendment to the Sexual Assault Crime Prevention Act (性侵害犯罪防治法) that would have mandated the enforced DNA sampling of people suspected of rape, murder, bodily harm, robbery, extortion and kidnapping for ransom.
It also tried to pass a proposal covering the second-level enforced DNA sampling of those found guilty after their first retrial, including those found guilty of an offense against public safety, offense against abandonment or offense of larceny, as well as violation of the Act on Controlling Guns, Ammunition and Knives (槍砲彈藥刀械管制條例) and the Narcotics Endangerment Prevention Act (毒品危害防制條例).
The DNA samples would be kept in perpetuity in the DNA database of the Criminal Investigation Bureau (CIB) and would only be deleted if no indictment is issued or if the suspect is found not guilty.
In response to recent demonstrations by the White Rose movement, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Pan Wei-kang (潘維剛), who has pushed to amend the Sexual Assault Crime Prevention Act, said DNA sampling should expanded, and not just confined to those convicted of sexual assault.
Pan said people convicted of larceny and robbery also tend to have a high rate of committing sexual assault, adding that DNA sampling should be expanded to include most convicts as a means of combating sexual assaults.
KMT caucus secretary-general Hsieh Kuo-liang (謝國樑) said the majority of people in the pan-blue camp were inclined to agree with Pan, adding that concerns about the over-expansion of enforced sampling and potential infringements of human rights were open for discussion.
Increasing the DNA database would be a great help in maintaining public safety, Hsieh said, adding that since most felons were repeat convicts, once their DNA was in the database it would be easier for the police to track them down.
Hopefully the amendment could make it through their third reading, provided the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) agrees with it, Hsieh said.
However, DPP caucus convener Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) said certain issues, including who the samples would be taken from, how the data would be kept and expiration dates were all issues that needed to be addressed with the utmost care. He also said international legislation should be consulted.
The DPP would decide its stance after discussing the issue with human rights groups, Ker said.
Translated by Jake Chung, staff writer