Global summary

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Please also see the 2014 journal article Forensic DNA databases: Ethical and legal standards: A global review.

Southern Africa

South Africa has a DNA database which will be expanded following adoption of a new DNA Act in 2013. Botswana also has a small DNA database.

According to Interpol's 2008 survey, Lesotho, Namibia and Zimbabwe also plan to build new DNA databases.

West Africa

Legislation to establish a DNA database in Nigeria is under consideration. Ghana is also reported to be planning a DNA database.

East Africa

Mauritius and Tanzania have adopted DNA database legislation.

There is an international plan to build a DNA database of pirates from Somalia.

North Africa and Middle East

According to Interpol, there are DNA databases in Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and Tunisia. However, many of these databases appear to be small or aspirational.

Israel has a criminal DNA database and has created a controversial DNA database of African migrants crossing into Israel from Egypt.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is currently the only country in the world that is actively engaged in trying to put its entire population on a DNA database. However, contracts between the UK Forensic Science Service (FSS) and UAE were canceled when the FSS was closed down and it is unclear how far implementation has progressed.

There is a plan build a DNA database in Algeria. At end 2013, Algeria received CODIS DNA database software from the USA.

According to Interpol's 2008 survey, DNA databases are also planned in Lebanon, Libya and Syria. Political instability in the region means that it is unlikely all these plans will be realised in the foreseeable future.

The six member countries (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, UAE) of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) have discussed plans to exchange fingerprint and security information, potentially including DNA profiles, between states. Interpol's 2008 survey of DNA databases states that Oman is planning to build a DNA database. Qatar adopted DNA database legislation in September 2013.

US and UK intelligence services have built a database of DNA collected in Afghanistan and Iraq.


China, Japan, the Republic of Korea (South Korea) and Singapore have DNA databases. In South Korea there are reports that prosecutors have been collecting DNA samples from workers convicted of engaging in strikes and other activities.

According to Interpol, the world's third largest DNA database is in China, although it currently contains a small proportion of the country's population. DNA databases in China are operated by individual police forces. China has also established a database to identify missing and vagrant children. There was controversy in 2009 when China began DNA testing nightclub workers in Guangzhou and again in 2013 when police in East China’s Shandong Province sought DNA from about 5,000 male students. There is a separate DNA database in Hong Kong and also in Taiwan.

Malaysia adopted DNA legislation in 2009, but implementation was delayed pending adoption of detailed regulations in 2012. In 2012, DNA evidence submitted by the prosecution in a controversial prosecution of a politician for sodomy was ruled unreliable by a judge who discharged the case.

In India, regional DNA databases have operated since 2000. A bill for a national database was drafted in 2007 and is currently being revised by an expert committee before proceeding to parliament.

Bangladesh's interim cabinet approved a DNA Database Act in 2013 and received CODIS DNA database software from the USA.

Sri Lanka has a privately-run DNA database but has recently established a government laboratory.

Brunei, Nepal, Pakistan and Indonesia are planning to set up DNA databases. In Thailand, lobbyists from Gordon Thomas Honeywell (GTH) circulated draft legislation in 2010 and the Ministry signed a memorandum of understanding with the FBI to build the database in 2013. GTH represent US DNA testing firm Life Technologies (Applied Biosystems).

In the Philippines, a Bill to create a DNA database was introduced to the Senate in 2013.

In 2008, Uzbekistan announced it would put its entire population on a DNA database, but in 2012 it said registration would only be compulsory for people convicted of serious crimes. A draft law was introduced for debate at end 2013.


Both Australia and New Zealand have DNA databases.

In Australia each state operates its own DNA database and a national system allows profiles to be matched across states. South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory allow DNA profiles taken from innocent people to be retained. In 2008, a man was wrongfully convicted of rape in Melbourne, Victoria on the basis of a match with the DNA database and served a year in prison before being exonerated. In 2012, DNA from an autistic ten year-old boy was included in South Australia's DNA database.

In 2009, new legislation in New Zealand expanded its DNA database. New Zealand is considering an automated searching and sharing system for DNA matches with the United States (similar to agreements signed by many EU countries).


DNA databases in Europe vary widely in size and in the requirements of the legislation adopted.

In 2008, in the case of S. and Marper v. the United Kingdom (known as the Marper case), the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the indefinite retention of innocent peoples DNA samples, DNA profiles and fingerprints in England, Wales and Northern Ireland contravened the European Convention on Human Rights. The judgement applies in all 47 member countries of the Council of Europe.

The UK database was the first to be established (in 1995) and is the second largest in the world (after the USA), containing a higher proportion of the population than any other country's database. Indefinite retention of innocent people's DNA profiles (introduced in England and Wales in 2001, but not in Scotland) became highly controversial. New legislation was introduced in 2012 to remove innocent people's and some children's records in order to comply with human rights law (the Marper judgment). In 2013, more than 1.7 million DNA profiles were removed from the database and more than 7.75 million stored DNA samples were destroyed. However, some controversy has continued regarding the collection of DNA routinely on arrest, especially from children, retrospective sampling of convicted persons, and retention of data from persons convicted or cautioned for minor offences. In 2011-12 an innocent man spent 5 months in prison in England accused of rape due to contamination of his DNA in a forensic laboratory.

DNA databases currently exist in 26 of the 28 European Union (EU) member states: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

EU countries must all implement data protection legislation in line with the EU Data Protection Directive.

The inclusion of children and protestors on the DNA database in France has been controversial. Its DNA database law was found constitutional with reservations in 2010. In Germany, critics have questioned the inclusion of some categories of persons on the DNA database and plans to allow automated searches and sharing of DNA profile matches with the USA. In 2009, German police discovered they had been tracking someone they thought was a murderer for two years who turned out to be a woman involved in making cotton buds used for the collection of police DNA samples that were contaminated with her DNA. The use of DNA evidence in Italy came under international scrutiny in the case of the murder of Meredith Kercher and the subsequent conviction then acquittal and re-conviction of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito.

The law in Denmark was amended to comply with the Marper judgment in 2010. It is unclear whether Estonia and Latvia are yet compliant. It also unclear to what extent Greece, Italy and Portugal have implemented relatively recent legislation to establish DNA databases.

By end 2013, 18 EU countries had implemented automated searches and sharing of DNA profile matches across borders under the EU Pruem decisions, but the UK had opted out of this agreement amid concerns that its large database would give rise to large numbers of false profile matches (adventitious matches) occurring by chance with stored crime scene DNA profiles in other countries.

A DNA database is currently planned in Ireland. Malta will also need to establish a DNA database to comply with the EU's Pruem Decisions and has received some EU funding to do so.

According to the 2008 Interpol Survey, DNA databases are also planned in the non-EU countries: Albania, Bosnia & Herzogovina (where Republika Srpska has proposed setting up its own database) and Montenegro: these plans have yet to be implemented. Montenegro is a candidate country for EU membership, whilst the othertwo are potential candidate countries. Other EU candidate countries without DNA databases are Serbia and Turkey. These countries will be required to establish DNA databases as part of the process of becoming EU member states.

Two other EU candidate countries already have DNA databases: Iceland and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

Other European countries with DNA databases which are not members of the EU are: Norway, Russia, Switzerland and Ukraine.

Norway and Iceland have agreements with the EU on DNA match sharing across borders.


The world's largest DNA database is in the USA (although it contains a smaller proportion of the population than the UK database). The US federal DNA database (CODIS) was established in 1998 and includes DNA profiles submitted under laws which vary state by state. The Justice for All Act, 2004, expanded the national database by allowing the retention of DNA profiles from anyone charged with a felony offence. The Violence Against Women Act, 2005, allows DNA profiles to be uploaded on arrest, rather than on charge. DNA profiles taken from arrested persons are not automatically removed if the person is innocent, although the individual can request removal. About half of US states have changed their laws to allow collection of DNA on arrest, although these laws are subject to ongoing legal challenges.

DNA databases have also been established in Argentina,Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Jamaica and Uruguay.

In Chile, a supreme court judgment in 2012 excluded young offenders from the registry. New legislation was adopted in Brazil in 2012, with a view to expanding the DNA database. Detailed policy on implementation of the new law is still being developed. A new law is also planned in Jamaica. Trinidad & Tobago adopted DNA legislation in 2007, which was revised in 2011, allowing a significantly expanded database.

The British Overseas Territory of Bermuda began setting up a DNA database in 2005, including DNA profiles of innocent people. It plans to include its whole population in future.

Panama is developing a DNA database and DNA databases are also planned in the Bahamas and Costa Rica. DNA database legislation is also being developed in Peru. According to the Interpol 2008 survey, new databases are also planned in Barbados(which adopted legislation in 2005), Cuba and Venezuela. Mexico has created a database of police officers, including DNA, and also wishes to establish a DNA database for missing persons.