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Calls mount to expand DNA sample collection to fight crimes

The China Post news staff --There are growing new calls for collecting DNA samples to more effectively fight raping and other crimes. But a plan to revise existing rules is unlikely to clear the Legislative Yuan this year due to opposition from human rights organizations.

The arrest of a Coast Guard Administration (CGA) noncommissioned officer last week on charges of sexually assaulting two women 14 years ago in central Taiwan based on DNA evidence revives calls for expanding the scope for collecting DNA samples.

The existing regulations in the Statute for Collecting DNA Samples allow DNA sample collection from criminal suspects involved in sexual assault and serious crimes for more effective investigation.

The proposed rules would widen DNA sample collection to those convicted by district court for other crimes such as burglary, robbery, arson, drug dealing, and violating rules on weapons and explosives.

Legislators of the ruling Kuomintang said the draft revision to the rules already passed preliminary reading by a legislative committee.

But the legislative program was stalled on opposition from the Democratic Progressive Party and human rights groups.

KMT lawmakers expressed the hope that the opposition party and other organizations may present their proposals concerning the scope of the revision so that women in the nation can be better protected from sexual violence.

They said the new rules would help fight crime and better safeguard citizens.

Wang Cho-chiun, chief of the National Police Agency (NPA), backs the proposal.

He said that criminal suspects have become more resourceful in committing crimes and it is a global trend to permit wider collection of DNA samples from those with greater inclination to break the law and harm innocent people.

Yet human rights organizations said there are already adequate rules to collect DNA samples and any widening of the people subject to the new rules could compromise their basic human rights.

They also expressed grave concern that the DNA sample data could be leaked by unscrupulous parties, including those in law enforcement agencies to inflict harm on more people.

Most analysts said the chance for lawmakers to ratify the proposed revision before they finish the current term later this year would be rather slim because of the controversial issues involved and strong opposition.

Most of the legislators will be busy with re-election campaigns in coming months for the new legislative race set for January.

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