Forensic DNA: Statement of Principles

  1. No one, whether convicted or otherwise, should be forced to give a medical sample of any kind unless it has been determined in open court that their right to bodily integrity and genetic privacy is exceeded by overwhelming issues of public interest in the evidence likely to be produced.
  1. Police and prison officers should play no part in gaining consent for voluntary forensic procedures nor collecting forensic evidence.
  2. Forensic samples and the profiles they produce should remain the ‘property’ of the person who sourced them whenever that is known, no matter how they were obtained. When they are no longer required as evidence control of them should revert to that person. It is totally unacceptable for government to hang onto samples and profiles indefinitely or pass them on as they see fit.
  3. The mass databasing and crossmatching of DNA profiles in an attempt to gain ‘cold hits’ which might provide evidence in ‘suspectless’ crimes exceeds the theoretical and practical limitations of forensic DNA testing, and will result in wrongful convictions if permitted. It is totally unacceptable and discriminatory that prisoners should overwhelmingly be the ones subjected to this risk, especially as they are likely to be in a worse position than most when it comes to defending themselves.
  4. That the massive government funding of police, forensic labs and computer systems in the absence of Legal Aid funding which will enable the impoverished to access the sort of technical expertise required to defend against DNA evidence will further tilt the criminal justice system in favour of the prosecution and the wealthy.
  5. Australian forensic scientists have an extremely poor record in presenting forensic evidence in court and have been responsible for a disproportionate number of wrongful convictions. They are way overdue for proper independent monitoring and oversight. This need has become urgent as forensic evidence plays a part in an ever increasing number of criminal cases.

Leave a Comment