Russia steps up crimefighting with creation of DNA database

From now on anyone in Russia who commits a serious crime will not only have their fingerprints taken but will also have their DNA profiles held on a police database, effectively holding the criminal ‘hostage’ against committing crimes in the future.

­Every murderer, bandit, rapist or pedophile will have their genome record held on file, greatly increasing the chances of their subsequent apprehension in the event of their re-offending. There is no such thing as a traceless crime as every human being leaves behind maybe a thin, but still distinctive, trace of DNA.

“A human being always leaves an invisible trace that consists of skin particles, saliva, sweat and hairs”, Anna Rybakova, representative of the Ministry of Internal Affairs crime laboratory told Izvestiya. “A DNA analysis defines the person to whom these particles belong. When the ‘DNA-trace’ from the accident scene is compared to the DNA examples stored in the base, it will be determined for sure whether the detained person is the criminal or not”.

Genome records will be collected in prisons and detention facilities and transferred to the Interior Ministry’s laboratories, where the data will be archived. Genome records will be held only on those individuals who commit grave and violent crimes.

The law enabling Russian law enforcement to create genome record databases of criminals was adopted in 2008, but now those separate databases are to be united in one, which will be constantly updated.

Russia, in fact, is lagging behind many industrial countries which have mandatory collection of DNA samples from criminals. In the US the federal DNA identification programme of criminals came into force in 1994. France and Germany followed the American example in 1998, Great Britain in 2000, Australia in 2001 and Japan in 2004.

Last year in the Russian Federation 4,200 individuals were found guilty of rape and quite obviously they are the first to be registered in the criminal genome bank.

Next in line are those convicted of first degree murderer – some 2,700 people. A further 42,000 convicts found guilty of robbery with extreme violence, and as many as 19,603 criminals sentenced to various terms of imprisonment for banditry will also be registered.

The shocking reality of these serious crimes is that such criminals are most likely to repeat acts of violence. It is hoped that those who reoffend will now be promptly tracked down and arrested.

“The creation of the genome storage will give us an opportunity to identify the detained more precisely,” believes human rights activist Valeriy Borshev. “This will cause fewer mistakes, because the more information we have, the better.”

The recently introduced practice of administrative supervision of persons who have served prison sentences will also be backed up by criminal genome database control.

Human rights activists place also hope that the initiative will help to detect miscarriages of justice and save innocent people from prison.

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