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December 21, 2013
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Bunting says DNA bill not a panacea

Minister of National Security Peter Bunting. - Ricardo Makyn

National Security Minister Peter Bunting is cautioning that the DNA bill, slated to go to Parliament next month, will not provide immediate solutions to the country's crime problem.

He was speaking on Wednesday, December 18, at the weekly Jamaica House press briefing at the Office of the Prime Minister, hosted by Information Minister, Senator Sandrea Falconer.

Minister Bunting said it will take some time for the database to be built up in order to link offenders to crimes.

"It is not a panacea that (will make) crime suddenly go down. in fact, what the DNA legislation is going to facilitate is the compulsory collection of DNA samples from suspects and the maintenance of a database of these samples and the profiles that they get from the samples. That is really going to become very valuable after you have built a database, that you can compare the samples you may recover from the crime scene," he noted.

Addressing concerns that the bill has been long in coming, Minister Bunting said the administration is in fact moving quickly to bring it into force.

He said the legislation was first mooted in 2006, with the first draft of a Cabinet submission done in mid-2007. The then new government passed the Cabinet submission and issued drafting instructions in mid-2008. Minister Bunting pointed out that, having come into office three years later, however, the bill is still with the chief parliamentary counsel.

"The first time we got a draft was in November 2012. So, I have had it in my carriage for a year, and it is going to come to Parliament in January," he asserted.

The bill is among a number of pieces of legislation aimed at tackling crime. The other bills, which have been passed or are now going through Parliament, include: the Proceeds of Crime Act; the Evidence Special Measures Act; the Law Reform (Fraudulent Transactions) (Special Provision) Act; the Anti-gang Bill; Trafficking in Persons Bill; and the Maritime Drug Trafficking Suppression Act, which has been approved by Cabinet.

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