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Dhaka Tribune

National DNA database centre put on hold

Update : 03 May 2014, 06:38 PM

Efforts to set up a national DNA database centre is forced to be put on hold as the country is yet to see the enactment of a DNA act, although over six months had passed since the draft of the act was approved by the then interim cabinet.

Sources said President Abdul Hamid has already given his nod to the draft of the Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) Act, and it was likely to be placed in the next parliament session.

Dr Sharif Akteruzzaman, head of the National DNA Profiling Laboratory at the Dhaka Medical College Hospital, told the Dhaka Tribune that the DNA database centre would be set up in the lab to make it easier to solve crimes by identifying criminals.

He said the indexing system at the centre – the first of its kind in the country – would preserve DNA data of convicted criminals and missing persons along with crime scene evidence, which could later be used to solve cases.

The database would not only save time and money for the law enforcement agencies, but would also be crucial in ensuring justice for the victims, he added.

Dr Sharif said all convicts would need to submit their DNA samples through the jail authority, while those samples would be preserved at the DNA database centre to be later cross-checked with biological evidence (bloodstain, semen etc) from crime scenes to see if any convict had committed any crime after being released.

He added that a DNA database centre could save up to 90% of investigation costs for law enforcers.

Different medical college and district hospital morgues reportedly receive around 2,000-3,000 unidentified bodies each year. A large number of those bodies could later be identified, if DNA samples are preserved properly at the DNA database centre.

On the other hand, the courts are reportedly unable to pass judgements based on DNA evidence as the country was still using a century-old evidence act.

The work of the DNA lab is also hampered regularly, as scientific officers of the lab have to appear before the court to present the reports prepared by them. The passage of the act would waive them from having to appear before the court.

Meanwhile, in the absence of a DNA act, the law enforcement agencies are unable to collect DNA sample from a suspect without getting their consent. The passage of the act would allow law enforcers to force offenders to provide DNA samples.

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