Certain citizens of Trinidad and Tobago who have been victems of a sexual offence who volunteer
DNA samples to be taken will now be informed that these samples will be kept "Indefinitely"
Debate on the Administration of Justice (DNA) Bill, 2011, had been postponed for a month after several Opposition and Independent Senators protested strong objections to the bill, which inclined to change the current DNA legislative framework and replace it with a completely new system.
The bill has been redrafted taking the views almost all of the objections raised. In particular, the Government proposes to withdraw a section which had proposed to give the State a right to take a DNA sample from a victim of a sexual offence without the victim’s consent.
Also, it will now be compulsory for the proposed National Forensic DNA Databank of Trinidad and Tobago to store DNA profiles “indefinitely”, subject to objections from the Commissioner of Police and victims of crimes who may have volunteered samples.
Section 7 (2) of the bill used to make it optional for the databank to store the profiles indefinitely. The proposed amendment now reads: “DNA profiles stored in the Forensic DNA Databank SHALL be kept indefinitely.”
The DNA samples themselves, if not destroyed during DNA analysis, shall be kept for a minimum period of ten years, before being destroyed.
In relation to this controversial issue of taking samples without consent of a victim of rape or another sexual offence, the Section in the bill which empowered the State to take a sample without consent of the victim (Section 19(1)) has been entirely removed. It has been replaced with a new section which specifically preserves the right of the victim to withdraw his or her consent even after initially consenting to give a sample.
The new Section 19 now contains a subsection which reads: “(3) A qualified person who proposes to take a sample from a complainant shall–(a) obtain the consent of the complainant or his representative...before the sample is taken,