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Kuwaiti Emir orders reconsideration of controversial DNA law – agency

The Emir of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad [File photo]
The Emir of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad [File photo]

Kuwait’s Emir Sabah Bin Ahmed Al-Sabah yesterday instructed the reconsideration of the controversial law passed by the Kuwaiti parliament requiring citizens to submit to DNA testing, the country’s state-run news agency reported.

The emir instructed Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak “to reexamine the DNA law in accordance with constitutional principles and in a way that safeguards privacy rights and serve public interests,” the Kuwait News Agency (Kuna) cited Deputy Minister of the Amiri Diwan Affairs Sheikh Ali Jarrah Al-Sabbah as saying.

The Kuwaiti government resigned on Saturday and on the same day the emir decided to dissolve the parliament, the National Assembly, based on a request by the government, which resigned following disagreement with the National Assembly. The head of the former government was assigned to carry out caretaking tasks for the government until a new one had been appointed.

The National Assembly approved the DNA law in July 2015. The controversial law requires the Ministry of Interior to gather DNA information on all citizens and residents and use such information for security reasons.

The government attempted to provide justification for the law at the time saying that it is important for security investigations and it helps officials get information on the corpses of crime victim.

The Kuwaiti government had the law passed days after a terrorist attack that targeted a mosque in the capital, leaving tens injured or killed.

The law punishes those who refuse to comply with a one-year prison sentence and a fine of up to 10,000 Kuwaiti dinars (around $30,000).

The law’s opponents said that it violates human rights, especially those of citizens and residents.

“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 Human Rights Watch.

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