The interim cabinet in its first meeting on Monday gave final nod to the ‘Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) Act, 2013’ draft with provisions for a maximum seven-year prison term and Tk 300,000 in fine for any violation of norms.
Although there are several DNA profiling facilities in Bangladesh, there was no Act to regulate them, said cabinet Secretary Muhammad Musharraf Hossain Bhuiyan briefing newsmen after the meeting.
The Act is meant to regulate how the DNA tests will be carried out, how the database will be preserved, the tests’ system, quality control, laboratory quality, administrative system and others under a framework.
Once enacted, no person or organisation would be able to carry out tests or preserve DNA without the government’s approval, he said.
Violating the Act will invite a seven-year prison term and Tk 300,000 in fine.
One will be jailed for two to three years and fined Tk 100,000 for DNA profiling without approval.
Publishing information on DNA without approval will lead to a three-year jail term and Tk 50,000 in fine and if anyone destroys or contaminates DNA sample, he will get seven years behind bars and will be fined Tk 300,000.
A national database will be created under the Act where sample of everyone’s DNA and information will be stored.
If anyone enters this database without approval, he will be subjected to two years in jail and a fine of Tk 30,000.
DNA profiling is seen as an essential tool to identify criminals, dead bodies and for ascertaining parents.
A directorate will be created under the women and children affairs ministry under the Act. An advisory committee of experts will be formed with members from other ministries.
Secretary Bhuiyan said a cell would be created under women and children affairs ministry until the directorate was set up.
The National Forensic DNA Profiling testing facility at the Dhaka Medical College Hospital generally uses 16 STR Markers during DNA profiling.
Two different numbers show up against each marker during DNA analysis of a person. Each of these numbers carry an identity of the person’s characteristic.
Thirty-two numbers of the 16 markers form a person’s DNA profile are unique to each person. It is hence possible to identify a criminal by testing blood, parts of the body or even hair from a crime scene.
Scientists are able to ascertain parentship by comparing 32 numbers from one person with 32 numbers from other person.
DNA test are commonly used in Bangladesh to solve cases of rape and ascertaining parentships.
Recently, Rapid Action Battalion conducted DNA tests on slain journalist couple Sagar Sarowar and his wife Meherun Runi to identify the killers, but it is yet to make any headway.
The national forensic has tested and preserved DNA samples from victims of last year’s Tazreen fire and this year’s Rana Plaza collapse to help relatives identify the victims.
Government medical colleges in Rajshahi, Sylhet, Barisal, Rangpur, Khulna, and Faridpur have DNA labs where DNA screening is performed.
Activities of these labs will come under the DNA Act once it is enacted.