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Sun 1 Mar 2015 01:48 PM

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Qatar moves to allow DNA evidence in court

Government approves draft law that specifies ways in which samples can be used - report

Qatar moves to allow DNA evidence in court
Image for illustrative purpose only. (Getty Images)

DNA evidence could be admissible in Qatari courts for the time, after the government approved a draft law that specifies ways in which samples can be used.

The draft bill on DNA – which was approved by cabinet last Wednesday, according to the state news agency – stipulates how DNA tests should be carried out, how DNA data should be kept and under what confidentiality clauses, and considers DNA evidence “to be authoritative in evidence unless proven otherwise”.

DNA evidence includes hair and bodily fluids samples and can identify a suspect with near certainty. Two lawyers quoted in an article in Doha News on Sunday said that such evidence was not commonly used in Qatari courts. Whether or not to admit DNA evidence has generally been left up to the judge’s discretion, they said.

Expanding the use of DNA evidence in Qatar is expected to make it easier to convict criminals. It could also exonerate suspects who are wrongly accused of a crime, the newspaper reports.

“DNA provides irrefutable evidence that is recognized around the whole world,” Mohamed Amin, a lawyer at the Al Shahwani and Al Muhannadi legal practice, told Doha News.

Amin added that he doesn’t expect a rush of sampling to occur in Qatar because of the country’s small population. “Defendants usually admit to the crime in the cases I’ve handled, so there was no need for DNA evidence,” he said.

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