PRESS RELEASE: UK – IHRC expresses concern over time limit on innocent people’s DNA data


Islamic Human Rights Commission

07 May 2009

PRESS RELEASE: UK – IHRC expresses concern over time limit on innocent people’s DNA data

The Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC) expresses deep concern at police plans to keep the DNA data of people cleared of offences and those never charged. The plans entail removing the details of 850,000 innocents but would mean that people cleared or never charged with offences would see their details retained on a database for a further 6 or 12 years.

IHRC would point to last year’s European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruling that such databases were “illegal” and “indiscriminate”. Such plans go against the grain of our legal system and are a violation of our basic human right and the age old notion of innocent until proven guilty, which is essentially lost with the perpetuation of such a database. A policy of undermining and manipulating the highest court in Europe shows a complete lack of respect and takes a swipe at its legitimacy. This is unhealthy in a modern and progressive European Union to which the United Kingdom belongs.

Moreover, it is a well substantiated belief that the Muslim community will be disproportionately affected by such a policy as is the case with the continued use of Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000. Schedule 7 disproportionately impacts Muslims, with reported cases of individuals subjected to long interviews after which their DNA is taken, while in the majority of cases no charges follow. IHRC stands with other prominent human rights organisations in condemning such actions and urging the authorities to follow the ECHR ruling.

IHRC Chair Massoud Shadjareh commented:

“Recent numbers show a massive and disproportionate increase in police stop and searches of Muslims. These worrying figures alongside the policy of retaining DNA samples of suspected offenders will only increase the feeling of Islamophobia within the Muslim community making them feel like second class citizens”.

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The Islamic Human Rights Commission is an NGO in special consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council.

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