Republika Srpska to form criminal DNA database

15/11/2012

RS law enforcement aims to quickly and accurately identify criminals, enabling quicker prosecution in court.

By Mladen Dragojlovic for Southeast European Times in Banja Luka -- 15/11/12

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A proposed law mandates the Republika Srpska Institute for Forensic Medicine to take samples and make DNA profiles from people accused of certain crimes. [AFP]

A proposed law in Republika Srpska (RS), which stipulates the interior ministry can form a DNA database for criminals, is raising hopes the authorities will fight crime more efficiently.

Police are optimistic that the law will pass soon because they cannot always rely on using fingerprints to identify criminals and conduct investigations.

"DNA analysis solves this problem by enabling us to know whether we have the person in the database, and whether they committed a crime earlier. Most importantly, the possibility of making a mistake is very small," Gojko Vasic, RS police director, told SETimes.

DNA technology has been used in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) to identify victims from the 1992-1995 conflict; the country's vast database is complemented by a world-renowned DNA analysis laboratory.

The technology is also used to solve crimes in Croatia and Serbia. Croatia's police established a DNA database 11 years ago.

"This work brings results in identification of those who committed crimes … in the last 11 years since the base was established. It is also of great help in identifying human remains or missing persons," according to a statement issued by Croatia's police department to SETimes.

The RS law would provide law enforcement with a framework and a technological advantage, according to Zeljko Karan, director of the Institute for Forensic Medicine in Banja Luka.

"It is the best solution. This law will determine all the necessary guidelines for its fair and lawful use. Samples will not been taken from persons convicted of minor crimes," Karan told SETimes.

Those who are acquitted through DNA analysis and juveniles will have their samples destroyed after a period of time, which still has yet to be determined, Karan said.

"The law must give answers to all of these questions: who, when and in which way will we destroy those samples."

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The DNA database will be located at Republika Srpska's interior ministry.

Once the law is passed, which is expected by the end of this month, the ministry will be charged with creating the database and making it operable.

BiH's other entity, the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FBiH), does not have a plan to create a database yet.

"The most important task will be establishing a DNA database on the state level," Elmira Karahasanovic, department chief of police in FBiH, told SETimes.

This content was commissioned for SETimes.com.
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