Criminal Justice in Europe: A Comparative Study

By Phil Fennell; Christopher Harding et al. | Go to book overview

For this reason there is a strong case for saying that all DNA samples should be destroyed as soon as the DNA profile is obtained and that the information on that profile should only be used for purposes directly related to the particular crime under investigation. Such provisions would protect individuals against serious human rights violations.


CONCLUSION

Despite initial enthusiasm DNA profiling is not a flawless investigative and probative tool. There are problems over quality assurance, interpretation of the test, independent scrutiny, and rights of the defence to gain access to the evidence. All these difficulties should at least generate accepted methods and standards of testing and quality controls.

The reliability of DNA profiling in criminal cases has not been challenged frontally in the courts of either country. In England and Wales there is at present no appellate case law, but challenges are expected imminently. In a Dutch case106 when the defence tried to question the general reliability of DNA testing the Hoge Raad rejected the challenge on the ground that the defence were not claiming unreliability in that particular case. In each system, therefore, much remains unresolved. The new Dutch law introduces more detailed formal safeguards. In England and Wales the Royal Commission on Criminal Justice considered this issue and suggested a number of measures to ensure that such evidence is carefully obtained, tested and presented and that the rights of defence are preserved.107 In both jurisdictions clearer formal controls will doubtless soon be in place.

____________________
106
HR, 18 February 1992, [ 1993] NJ 28.
107
See the Report of the Royal Commission on Criminal Justice ( London; HMSO 1993), chap. 9.

-282-

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