Justice ministry working to meet December deadline for DNA legislation

by jeeg 16. December 2010 05:28

JUSTICE ministry officials are working feverishly to make the December deadline for the tabling of legislation to provide for the collection and use of DNA data as evidence.

Prime Minister Bruce Golding, in a statement to the House of Representatives in 2008, had pitched the idea of introducing legislation to enable the taking of non-invasive DNA samples, establishing a DNA database for access to and use of the samples and allowing persons to obtain copies of DNA profiles. At the time he said a DNA register would be established simultaneously with the passage of the legislation for instances in which DNA will be needed for evidence.

Now it appears a draft of the lingering legislation is nearer completion to begin the journey to passage.

"We are working feverishly to hand an updated draft over to Senator Dwight Nelson (National Security Minister) this week to facilitate the prime minister's commitment," an official at the Ministry of Justice told the Observer Monday, noting that a number of changes had already been made based on recommendations from the Attorney General and the Director of Public Prosecutions.

"It will then be circulated to the Attorney General's Department and the Director of Public Prosecution and other stakeholders for further comments.

If they find it satisfactory and the Bill is settled the next stage will see it being put before the Cabinet Sub-committee known as legislation committee for them to sign off and then it will be put before the entire Cabinet to be signed off on and for introduction to the Houses of Parliament," the official said.

DNA (Deoxyribonucleic Acid) contains the genetic orders for the growth and function of all life forms. The main role of DNA in a cell is for long-term storage of information. It is often compared to a blueprint, as it has the instructions to build other parts of the cell, such as proteins.

"There is provision that the State will be required to retain DNA samples in cases that involve criminal conviction and there is a whole regime to govern the management of those samples," Golding told the House at the time. "It is not intended to maintain a data bank of every person whose sample is taken, only in relation to criminal matters."

Jamaica Observer

 

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