Germany

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Germany set up its DNA database in 1998.

The 2008 Interpol survey reports that 135,252 crime scene DNA profiles and 571,250 individuals' profiles, plus 972 missing persons' DNA profiles and 438 unknown/deceased DNA profiles were held in Germany at the time of the survey. According to Interpol, Germany's DNA database grew to 186,790 crime scene DNA profiles, 717,425 reference DNA profiles from individuals, 9,823 missing persons' DNA profiles, plus 4,122 unidentified human remains DNA profiles in 2011. A DNA database legislation had been adopted at that time.

Resources

Detailed analysis

I. Law on Point

For the provision and examination of DNA samples: §§ 81a, 81e, 81f and 81g Rules of Legal Procedure (Strafprozessordnung); § 3 DNA-Identitätsfeststellungsgesetz (“act for the establishment of identity”).

For the maintenance of the database: § 3 Identitätsfeststellungsgesetz and §§ 2, 7 and 8 Bundeskriminalamtgesetz (act for the Federal Criminal Investigation Office)

Content of the German DNA-database: DNA-identification codes of known perpetrators and “latents” (samples secured as evidence at scenes of crimes).[1]

II. Entry Criteria

Persons convicted of a serious offence or repeatedly committing the same minor offence, suspects charged of a serious offence, and crime scene stains when related to any recordable offence[2]

The German forensic DNA database is governed by the Bundeskriminalamt (BKA). The DNA profiles that are derived from unidentified crime scene stains can be entered into the database if they are possibly related to any recordable offence.[3] Crime suspects’ DNA profiles can only be entered into the database when they are possibly involved in a serious criminal offence or when they are suspected to commit a serious offence in the future.[4] Entry of the profiles of convicted offenders is allowed when they are irrevocably sentenced for a serious criminal offence. Since 2005, DNA profiles of offenders who are sentenced for repeatedly committing the same ‘minor offence’ can also be entered into the database. The DNA profiles of individuals who are not irrevocably sentenced due to irresponsibility and whose files are not removed from the Bundeszentralregister [federal central register] or the Erziehungsregister [register of upbringing], can also be entered into the DNA database.[5]

III. Sample Collection

The German Criminal Procedure Code (Strafprozeßordnung) allows for the taking of blood samples and other biological material from crime suspects without their consent when this act is considered necessary for the investigation. The authority to start such procedure is vested in a judge. If this procedure could possibly lead to a delay that could endanger the success of the investigation, the public prosecution office may also order such a procedure. For all other situations, consent of the suspect is necessary.[6] Consent is usually needed in order to take a DNA sample from a convicted offender. Coercive sampling can only be ordered by a judge and only when it concerns an individual who is convicted for a sexual offence or another serious offence and when it is very likely that the convicted person will commit a similar offence in the future. Individuals who repeatedly commit the same minor offence will be treated as if they have committed a serious offence.[7]

The taking of a sample from third persons such as witnesses without their consent is only admissible if this measure is considered indispensable for establishing the truth. Again, this procedure can only be started by courtesy of a judge or, on the above described conditions, by the public prosecution office. Although this may be refused for the same reasons as a testimony may be refused, the judge can allow the use of direct force in order to gather a sample. This can only be done when the individual insists on the refusal despite the imposition of a coercive fine or when there are exigent circumstances.[8] A DNA sample may be taken from minors (14-17 years), but normally only upon their legal guardians’ consent. A DNA sample may be taken from a mentally ill person if it is very likely that this person will commit a similar offence in the future.[9]

IV. Removal Criteria

Convicted persons’ and suspects profiles are removed when their retention is no longer necessary and crime scene stains must be deleted after 30 years of their entry[10]

Unidentified DNA profiles must be removed from the database at the latest after thirty years, but most of the crime scene stains are removed after ten years. Only a few will be never removed, or only when the related crime is solved (e.g. murder, genocide). Regarding the DNA profiles of convicted offenders, the law stipulates a certain period after which shall be decided whether the profiles shall be removed from the database or not. This period is five years for minors and ten years for adults. Counting starts the moment the sentence has passed. The DNA profiles of crime suspects are removed from the database when retaining them seems no longer necessary or deemed inappropriate. This is the case when the suspect is acquitted, the case is dismissed, prosecution is aborted or when it is believed that the person will not commit a serious offence in the future.[11]

V. Sample Retention

Convicted persons’ and suspects’ samples must be destroyed when they are no longer considered useful for investigatory purposes[12]

Only unidentified DNA samples can be retained for further purposes (e.g. follow-up analysis). If they are no longer necessary for the criminal proceeding, DNA-samples of known persons must be destroyed immediately after analysis.[13]

VI. Database Access

Officials of the BKA and the Central Investigation offices of the sixteen Federal States have direct access to the database. Public prosecution services can also be provided with data from the database for criminal justice purposes. Authorized persons have access rights to all the data contained in the database: police service concerned and its reference number, criminal offence, laboratory charged with the examination and its reference number, formula for making the data anonymous and unique identification number of the data set, personal data of known individuals and identification number of the data recorded. DNA profiles can be exchanged with the other EU Member States through Interpol. As Germany has signed and ratified the Convention of Prüm, it has automatic access to the database of its contracting partners.[14]

BS 2000 is currently used. Adjustment to Oracle-data base is planned.

With the numbers via special search algorithms. Only entirely matching hits are offered at the moment. The offering of hits with a certain “fault tolerance” is foreseen for the Oracle data base.




  1. E.U. 9445/1/06 at 6.
  2. See EU Current Practices at 52.
  3. Id.
  4. Errichtungsordnung DNA Analyse Datei, Art. 2.2, §3a to b.
  5. Id. at Art. 2.2, § 3c.
  6. Code of Criminal Procedure, § 81a: 1-3.
  7. Id., § 81g: 1.
  8. Id., §81c: 1-6.
  9. See EU Current Practices at 53.
  10. See EU Current Practices at 53.
  11. See EU Current Practices at 53.
  12. See EU Current Practices at 53.
  13. See EU Current Practices at 53.
  14. See EU Current Practices at 53.