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    • Minister of National Security, Hon. Peter Bunting, says he is confident that the Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) Evidence Act, 2015, will withstand any constitutional challenges.
    • Mr. Bunting said that prior to tabling the Bill (in the House on April 29), he had the input of the Attorney General’s Department, Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Legal Reform Department, as the DNA Evidence Act, 2015, makes provisions for the compulsory taking of samples from criminal suspects.
    • The Minister was speaking at a post Sectoral Debate press briefing, held today (April 30) at the Office of the Prime Minister.

    Minister of National Security, Hon. Peter Bunting, says he is confident that the Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) Evidence Act, 2015, will withstand any constitutional challenges.

    Mr. Bunting said that prior to tabling the Bill (in the House on April 29), he had the input of the Attorney General’s Department, Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Legal Reform Department, as the DNA Evidence Act, 2015, makes provisions for the compulsory taking of samples from criminal suspects.

    The Minister was speaking at a post Sectoral Debate press briefing, held today (April 30) at the Office of the Prime Minister.

    “One of the challenges that we grappled with in developing the Bill and making the provisions for the taking of samples, particularly without the consent of the suspect, is to ensure that the rights of the individual are observed and that only reasonable force is used to extract the sample from a non-consenting suspect,” Mr. Bunting explained.

    The Minister said the type of sample to be taken is not very intrusive and will be similar to that of taking fingerprints. He further informed that there are two types of DNA samples – intimate and non-intimate.

    “In most cases it will be what is referred to as a non-intimate sample, which is essentially a cotton swab that is rubbed on the inside of a suspect’s cheek and that is used to obtain the sample,” he explained.

    Mr. Bunting also highlighted that the Bill makes provisions for a Justice of the Peace (to be present), if the police has to forcibly take a DNA sample.

    Mr. Bunting noted that this type of legislation is not unique to Jamaica and highlighted that in most advanced countries there are provisions for similar types of DNA legislation.

    The Minister said that the DNA Bill is not a panacea for Jamaica’s crime problems.

    “[In many cases, it will] certainly prove conclusive, particularly for cases like rape, sexual abuse of minors, where there is provision to use it now. There are other cases where the perpetrator may leave some DNA evidence on the scene, it will be helpful,” the Minister added.

    This legislation will provide for the keeping, maintaining, and operating of a consolidated forensic DNA databank, to be known as the National DNA Register, for the purposes of forensic investigation and human identification.

    The Bill also provides for the regulation of the taking of bodily samples from persons and crime scenes, to treat with the retention or destruction of samples and DNA profiles.