Iceland

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Overview

Iceland has maintained a forensic DNA database since 2008 under the authority of the National Commissioner of Police and the Ministry of Justice. There are actually two databases: the Identification Database and the Trace Database. The Identification Database contains DNA profiles of individuals that have been convicted of certain serious crimes, including attempt or conspiracy to commit those crimes. Once a profile has been entered, the biological sample from which it was derived must be destroyed. Profiles in the Identification Database can only be used in the criminal proceeding for which they were created, except in “urgent circumstances.”[1] When someone’s profile has been entered into the Identification Database, the authorities must provide an explanation why. Anyone may petition the government to challenge their having been included in the Identification Database. If a person convicted of a serious crime is subsequently acquitted or otherwise exonerated, their DNA profile must be deleted from the Identification database as soon as possible in the circumstances.


The Trace Database contains unidentified genetic profiles found at crime scenes. After a profile has been entered, the biological sample from which it was derived may be retained for as long as is necessary to investigate suspected criminal activity. Searching between the two databases to find a match is allowed. The DNA profiles of known individuals that have not been entered into the Identification Database may not be compared with profiles in the Trace Database, unless it there are “reasonable grounds to suspect”[2] that that person has committed a serious crime.


Resources


Detailed Analysis

I. Law on Point

The Icelandic forensic DNA database is governed by the Law on Police DNA File[3] and the Police DNA File Regulations.[4]


II. Entry Criteria

The National Commissioner of Police maintains the two DNA databases: the Identification Database and the Trace Database. The two Databases are strictly separated.[5] The Trace Database contains genetic profiles that have been found at crime scenes from unidentified individuals potentially connected with the crime.[6] The Identification Database contains DNA profiles of persons that (A) have been convicted of violating the provisions of Chapter X, Chapter XI, Article 108, Article 164-166, Article 170-171, Articles 194-196, paragraphs 1 and 2 of Article 200, Article 201-202, Article 211, paragraph 2 of Article 218, paragraph 1 of Article 220 and Article 252 of the Criminal Code. The same applies for attempt and conspiracy counts of these crimes.[7] or (B) Have been cleared of charges of the provisions listed in section a, including attempt and conspiracy, for reasons of lack of mental capacity or have been judged as warranting a precautionary security order under section VII of the Criminal Code.[8]


The Trace Database contains genetic profiles that have been found at crime scenes from unidentified individuals potentially connected with the crime. These profiles ought only be included on the Trace Database if there is reason to believe that they belong to someone connected to the offence under investigation.[9] The National Commissioner of Police oversees when DNA profiles are to be entered onto the Trace Database. Such profiles ought to be entered immediately after the underlying genetic analysis is complete.[10]


DNA profiles on the Identification database may only be used in the criminal proceeding for which they were created unless there is an immediate need and the exception make special use of the database, i.e. in cases involving heinous crime. Whether or not an exception is to be granted therefore ought to consider the public views of the privacy interests at stake.[11] Upon final conviction, an individual’s DNA profile shall be promptly entered into the Identification database.[12] It is permissible to search between the Trace and Identification databases in the hopes of finding a match.[13] The DNA profiles of known persons that have been loaded on neither database are not to be compared with profiles in the Traces Database. In the event that there exists reasonable suspicion that an individual has committed a violation under Article 3 of these Regulations, their DNA profile may then be compared to the Trace Database on these independent grounds.[14]


III. Sample Collection

The National Commissioner of the Police is Responsible for entering DNA profiles onto both DNA databases, and is ultimately responsible for the proficient functioning of the same.[15] The National Commissioner of Police shall provide material and equipment to the police for conducting proper forensic investigations, as well as promulgating sufficient regulations and procedures to govern said investigations.[16] It is the responsibility of the National Commissioner of Police to compare DNA profiles among the DNA databases, as well as to consult expert opinion in the event of any ambiguity as to a match or exclusion.[17]


It is the role of the police to conduct forensic crime scene investigations, including the collection of biological samples pursuant to Article 3 of these Regulations. The police are ultimately responsible for recording all necessary information associated with any biological samples collected as well as ensuring the chain of custody is maintained in accordance with the relevant regulations.[18] The Ministry of Justice may enter into service contracts whereby third-party genetics laboratories are engaged to perform the genetic analysis necessary to derive DNA profiles from biological material.[19]


IV. Removal Criteria

When a person’s profile has been entered onto the Identification Database, it is incumbent upon the National Commissioner of Police to inform said person of this fact and provide an adequate explanation as to why this action has been taken. Any person has the right to petition the government to determine if their genetic information is contained on either of the databases at any time.[20] Any person who believes that their DNA profile has been included on one of the two databases by mistake, or that their database entry contains false or otherwise misleading information is free to petition the court for redress pursuant to the General Administrative Rules.[21]


DNA profiles in the Identification Database must be deleted not later than two years after the National Commissioner of Police has been made aware of the death of the individual’s passing. In the event that an individual’s DNA profile was lawfully included in the Identification Database but that individual is later acquitted or otherwise cleared of all charges, his profile must be deleted as soon as is possible in the circumstances but in not cases later than six months from said acquittal. In the event that it has become clear that an individual’s profile was entered onto the database incorrectly, it must be removed as soon as is possible in the circumstances. Finally, an individual’s genetic profile must be removed from the database when that person has been adequately identified and excluded from suspicion or upon the expiration of the allotted time for the criminal proceeding in question.[22]


V. Sample Retention

The laboratories that conduct genetic analyses under contract with the Ministry of Justice possess the biological samples during said analysis. Biological samples taken from known individuals must be destroyed upon derivation of a genetic profile therefrom. In the case of unidentified biological samples where there exists reason to believe they are linked with past criminal activity, they may be retained for as long as Is necessary for investigation.[23]


VI. Database Access

Without the express permission of the National Commissioner of Police, given only at the consent of the Minister of Justice, no person may have access to the information contained on either of the DNA databases.[24]


In the usual course of criminal proceedings, access to the database may be extended to the police, the state prosecutor, the Ministry of Justice, any competent foreign court or judicial authority for good cause, and any laboratory responsible for conducting genetic analysis—including those nongovernmental laboratories under contract to the Ministry of Justice to perform this function.[25]



References

  1. “brýnar ástæður”
  2. “rökstuddur grunur um”
  3. Lög um erfðaefnisskrá lögreglu [Law on Police DNA File], Law No. 88 of 31 May 2001.
  4. Reglugerð um erfðaefnisskrá lögreglu [Police DNA File Regulations], No. 748/2008 (hereinafter Iceland DNA Regulations).
  5. Iceland DNA Regulations, Art. 1
  6. Iceland DNA Regulations, Art. 1
  7. Iceland DNA Regulations, Art. 2.
  8. Iceland DNA Regulations, Art. 2.
  9. Iceland DNA Regulations, Art. 3.
  10. Iceland DNA Regulations, Art. 3.
  11. Iceland DNA Regulations, Art. 2.
  12. Iceland DNA Regulations, Art. 2.
  13. Iceland DNA Regulations, Art. 4.
  14. Iceland DNA Regulations, Art. 4.
  15. Iceland DNA Regulations, Art. 5.
  16. Iceland DNA Regulations, Art. 5.
  17. Iceland DNA Regulations, Art. 5.
  18. Iceland DNA Regulations, Art. 5.
  19. Iceland DNA Regulations, Art. 5.
  20. Iceland DNA Regulations, Art. 6.
  21. Iceland DNA Regulations, Art. 6.
  22. Iceland DNA Regulations, Art. 8.
  23. Iceland DNA Regulations, Art. 9.
  24. Iceland DNA Regulations, Art. 7.
  25. Iceland DNA Regulations, Art. 7.