Before posting, I apologise for the lack of updates this week, I’ve been a bit bogged down with university work and had a few personal issues to attend to. I’m completely finished at university soon so will have more time for quality blogging! Until then, bear with me!
Up until today’s ruling in the European Court of Human Rights, British citizens who were found innocent of crimes they were suspected of committing could have their DNA sample (taken at the time of arrest or questioning) maintained on a national DNA database. This was irrespective of whether they’d been convicted or not.
The ECHR though has ruled that the UK law is in breach of EU member state’s citizens to personal and family privacy. Of course in the US there is a codified constitution which outlines the concrete rights of citizens, whereas the UK’s constitution has been added to organically over centuries. The EU though has its own rules and has the power to overrule member states governments and institutions. It does this quite regularly in regards to the courts as citizens of an EU state can appeal court decisions in the Strasbourg court of human rights. Sometimes this can go a little too far and governments are overruled on trivial bullshit cases, but this really is a positive decision the court has made. The government here maintains more CCTV cameras than any other state bar North Korea and has all kinds of means to keep the public under surveillance. My DNA should not be made the property of any government body, especially if I haven’t committed a crime and given up my rights through committing a crime.
From the Guardian website;
“The European court said that keeping DNA material from those who were “entitled to the presumption of innocence” as they had never been convicted of an offence, carried “the risk of stigmatisation”.
Attacking the “blanket and indiscriminate nature” of the power to retain data, the judges said protections offered by article eight “would be unacceptably weakened if the use of modern scientific techniques in the criminal justice system were allowed at any cost and without carefully balancing the potential benefits of the extensive use of such techniques against important private-life interests”.
The decision could oblige the government to order the destruction of DNA data belonging to those without criminal convictions among the approximately 4.4m records on the England, Wales and Northern Ireland database.
Scotland already destroys DNA samples taken during criminal investigations from people, who are eventually not charged or who are later acquitted.”
I understand that such a database may go some way to cutting people out of criminal investigations when hunting down a murderer or whatever, but it all adds up to an increased belief that people are guilty before proven innocent. 100% blanket coverage of the UK population would be required to be able to rule people out of investigations when someone is on the run from the police, but that would be hugely costly, totally indiscriminate and no one can trust this government with anything that contains the word ‘data’ in it considering it’s atrocious track record in compiling and maintaining people’s vital date (the NHS database being the most high profile example).
The EU may be a huge, generally anti-democratic, neoliberal, bureaucratic monster most of the time, but every so often it rules in a manner which perhaps shows that not is all lost yet for the union.