In a big win for the civil liberties of innocent people charged with a crime, but never proven guilty, the court in Strasbourg recently ruled 857,000 DNA profiles must be destroyed, and not kept in a database, for future surveillance.
The fingerprints and DNA samples of more than 857,000 innocent citizens who have been arrested or charged but never convicted of a criminal offence now face deletion from the national DNA database after a landmark ruling by the European court of human rights in Strasbourg.
In one of their most strongly worded judgments in recent years, the unanimous ruling from the 17 judges, including a British judge, Nicolas Bratza, condemned the “blanket and indiscriminate” nature of the powers given to the police in England, Wales and Northern Ireland to retain the DNA samples and fingerprints of suspects who have been released or cleared.
The judges were highly critical of the fact that the DNA samples could be retained without time limit and regardless of the seriousness of the offence, or the age of the suspect.
If you capture DNA profiles in order to keep them forever — regardless of guilt or innocence just so you can try to create relationships and watch trends — that is unacceptable in a world where we must always presume solitary innocence over group guilt.
We applaud the court in Strasbourg for protecting the freedoms and the wishes of a free people across the world in a tremendous example of prescience against the unwitting future.