Sun (Used by permission)
by Tim Leonard
From L–R: Charperson Human Rights Committe Bar Council, Edmund Bon, Vice President Ragunath Kesaran and Deputy Chairman Criminal Law Committe Bar Council, Rajpal Singh at the press conference.
KUALA LUMPUR (Oct 6, 2008) : The Bar Council, which strongly
opposes the Government's proposal to implement the DNA Identification Bill as
tabled in Parliament in August, will be holding a public forum entitled "The
DNA Bill – Do We Need It?" on Oct 13.
Its vice–president Ragunath Kesavan said five speakers will present their viewpoints on various aspects of the Bill and those who attend the forum can then pose questions on the subject.
"The Bar Council's stand is clear. The DNA Bill should not be implemented," said Ragunath at a press conference today.
"But if the Government insists (on going ahead), then we will look into working with the Government."
He said there several reasons why there is no need for such a Bill.
"The Bill does not contain adequate legal safequards and would place excessive powers in the hands of the police and the Minister because the DNA profiling is generally assumed to be precise and infallible science.
"The main concern is the conclusive evidence clause (of the Bill), which provides that DNA evidence would be conclusive proof. As a result, the accused cannot challenge the veracity and authencity of DNA samples by presenting other forms of evidence."
Ragunath said the Bill is also problematic because it permits DNA samples to be taken from too wide a range of persons and will punish those who refuse to provide DNA samples.
"With the lack of a Data Protection Act , there are grave concerns that the Bill would result in infringements on privacy rights."
He said there is also a high cost factor in implementing the Bill.
"The money could be put to better use on crime prevention efforts and to solve crime."
He added concrete measures must be taken by the Government in solving crimes such as increasing police personnel on street patrols, setting up more police beats, improving training facilities, upgrading the equipment and support systems at all police stations and improving the salary structure of police personnel.
Among the speakers at the forum are Dr Koh Chong Lek, Head of DNA Centre of the Nanyang Technological University of Singapore; Sungai Siput MP Dr Jeyakumar Devaraj who is a medical doctor; lawyers Tommy Thomas and Datuk V. Sithambaram; and a representative from the Police Forensics Division.
The forum will start at 5pm at the Bar Council Auditorium. Admission is free and those who wish to attend can call 03–20313003.