The Justice Ministry is teaming up with the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to develop a national DNA database to help police solve violent crimes.
DNA samples in Thailand are currently collected on a case-by-case basis, with no national database in place to store records.
Justice permanent secretary Kittipong Kittiyarak yesterday chaired the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the ministry and FBI laboratory director Chris Hassell.
The ministry will aim to collect voluntary DNA samples from 100,000 inmates in the country’s prisons over the next three years, Mr Kittipong said.
The samples will be kept in a secured database by the ministry’s Central Institute of Forensic Science (CIFS).
The database will then be used as a reference point for forensic evidence collected by police from crime scenes.
Mr Kittipong said the database will help identify suspects in violent crimes and bring them to justice. The MoU allows Thailand to use the FBI’s DNA index system, called CODIS DNA. The database system is being used in 39 countries.
Khunying Pornthip Rojanasunan, CIFS director, said the software will help hunt down human traffickers, locate missing persons, and prevent wrongful convictions. “We expect to finish installing the software in the next six months,” Khunying Pornthip said.
The CIFS and the Corrections Department will be responsible for collecting DNA samples from prison inmates. Khunying Pornthip said the collection process should start in the middle of next year.
A new law must first be passed before Thailand can legally collect and store DNA samples from certain groups of people, Mr Kittipong said.
Forty-four countries have passed laws allowing them to set up national DNA databases, including China, Malaysia, Singapore and Japan. The databases have drawn criticism from activists in some countries who are concerned about privacy issues.