Swedish lawyers fear new DNA law

The Swedish Bar Association, which represents Swedish lawyers, has criticised the new law on DNA samples in criminal investigations, which will come into force on Sunday.

The law will allow police to demand samples not only from crime suspects but also from victims and plaintiffs. But the association says that is an encroachment on personal integrity.

The law was approved by parliament at the end of November, the idea being that it will give police new tools for solving crimes. Anyone held on reasonable suspicion of a crime will be required to provide a sample of their DNA.

All types of crime will be covered by the law, irrespective of the punishment awarded.

Even people who do not fall into the “reasonable suspicion” category could be required to take a DNA test in certain circumstances. In such cases, the crime must be one which would result in a jail term – but only people who are found guilty of a crime which results in more than a fine will be recorded in the DNA register.

Plaintiffs and even witnesses could be required to provide a sample – a possibility which the Swedish Bar Association has strongly criticised.

“The law means that crime victims could actually be subjected to a compulsory test which they don’t want to take part in,” said Anne Ramberg, the association’s general secretary, to Dagens Nyheter.

“We’re very dubious about that because it is an affront to an individual’s integrity.”

The association fears that the police would be able to force a rape victim, for example, to provide a sample to compare with the DNA traces of a suspected attacker.

In that instance, it would also be possible to pursue cases even if the victim withdraws the allegation.

Charlotte von Essen, a legal expert at the Ministry of Justice, confirmed to DN that the Swedish Bar Association’s interpretation of the law was correct.

The Crime Victim Compensation and Support Authority, however, is generally positive towards the new system. But it had apparently not considered the fact that even crime victims could be forced to provide a DNA sample.

“We have not picked up on that dimension of the new law on DNA tests,” said the authority’s information officer, Gudrun Nordborg, to TT.

Nordborg said that the organisation wanted to examine the issue before commenting further.