Kuwait DNA tests violate right to privacy, says Human Rights Watch


A new Kuwaiti law imposing mandatory DNA tests on citizens and foreigners violates the right to personal privacy and should be amended, Human Rights Watch said on Tuesday.

The Kuwaiti Parliament endorsed the law in early July, less than a week after an Islamic State jihadist blew himself up in a Shia mosque in Kuwait, killing 26 people and wounding more than 200 others.

The new counter-terrorism law has made Kuwait the only country to demand nationwide compulsory DNA testing, HRW said. "Many measures could potentially be useful in protecting against terrorist attacks, but potential usefulness is not enough to justify a massive infringement on human rights," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at the New York-based HRW.

The legislation calls on the Interior Ministry to establish a database on all of Kuwait's 1.3 million citizens and 2.9 million foreign residents. According to the law, people who refuse to give samples for the test face one year in jail and a fine of up to $33,000. Those who provide fake samples can be jailed for seven years.

DNA gathering systems like the one Kuwait intends to apply have been outlawed by the European Court of Human Rights, several US domestic courts and others on the grounds of privacy rights, HRW said.  "To serve the interests of Kuwaiti national security and comply with Kuwait's obligations under international human rights law, the bill should be amended and narrowed extensively," it said.

Kuwait has charged 29 men and women in connection with the mosque bombing. Their trial is scheduled to start on 4 August.    (AFP)

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