DNA profiling gets approval

Taking DNA samples can help the police identify criminals Keystone

The Swiss police could soon be able to carry out widespread genetic testing to help solve crimes.

This content was published on June 3, 2003 - 15:52

On Tuesday, the House of Representatives approved the use of large scale DNA testing to track down criminals.

The house approved the measure by 95 votes to 50, though it still needs the Senate's approval.

"Large scale DNA tests are an important tool when the police do not have a suspect," said parliamentarian, Dorle Vallender.

"It's used by other European countries and it has helped solved crimes."

However, opponents of the measure said it was the thin end of the wedge and that the system was open to abuse.

Solving crimes

Genetic fingerprinting has helped Swiss police solve more than 1,000 criminal cases, since a federal database was introduced three years ago.

The Federal Police Office said that since the database was launched, the number of cases solved by means of DNA testing had increased steadily - from ten cases in the second half of 2000 to 551 in 2001 and 484 cases in the first five months of 2002.

The vast majority of samples were extracted from mucus swabs, with the rest obtained from crime scenes.

DNA is the carrier of genetic information in living organisms and analysis of the material allows for the identification of individuals with a high degree of certainty.

DNA sampling is not permitted in the case of minor offences, including illegal entry or residence in Switzerland.

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