Kuwaitis alarmed by government's Big Brother DNA database

Kuwaitis alarmed by government's Big Brother DNA database

Kuwaitis have sounded the alarm about a law that makes it mandatory for all 4.2 million people living in the Gulf state to submit DNA samples to the government.
2 min read
07 June, 2016
The law was passed in response to the 2015 bombing of a mosque [Getty]

Kuwaitis have expressed concerns about their privacy after a new law has come into effect that requires the country's population to provide DNA samples to authorities.

Concerned citizens have complained that the sweeping DNA collection law - which took effect at the beginning of the month - is an invasion of their privacy and the hastily approved without proper consideration.

The new counter-terrorism law was passed by Kuwait's parliament - the National Assembly - following a suicide bomb attack on a Shia mosque last year, which left 27 worshippers dead and 227 wounded.

The mandatory law, which is the first of its kind in the world, requires all Kuwaiti citizens, foreign residents, and temporary visitors to submit DNA samples to a database that will be maintained and operated by police.

Fawaz al-Jidie, assistant professor of law at Kuwait University, told The New Arab that the government has been "absolutely unreasonable" in its decision to set up the database in the wake of the attack.

"We have many concerns about this law and suspicions that is unconstitutional as it violates the right to personal privacy, which is guaranteed by the constitution and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights." Jidie said.

      The bombing at the Shia mosque killed 27 people [Getty] 

The massive database could be misused by authorities he said, to falsely incriminate opponents or could lead to police relying solely on DNA evidence for convictions.

A forensic detective, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that the new law will be extremely difficult to implement.

"In my expert opinion because of the large amount of samples and the small number of medical staff it is very likely that mistakes will be made such as incorrect matches. The project is also very costly and is draining resources from the health care system," he said.

The law will affect all 1.3 million Kuwaiti citizens and 2.9 million foreign residents.

Family court social worker Abdel Aziz al-Dosari had other concers about the new law.

"This law is going to make homes fall on their owners' heads and lead to many divorces and family breakups. There are going to be many men with physiological problems coming to the court with their children for paternity tests," Dosari said.

"I'm not being pessimistic, we see lots of men who have lost their minds in court who have doubts in their children and accuse their wives of infidelity."