The repeal of the law mandating the collection of DNA from all Kuwaiti residents and visitors to the country is good for individuals concerned about their privacy and human rights, and for medical and scientific research in Kuwait and worldwide. The law as proposed would have been ineffectual in its stated purpose – fighting terrorism – and the simple existence of such a database could have been dangerous in the future, for example in the case of hacking or régime change. It could also have dissuaded people from voluntarily donating DNA for research purposes because of uncertainty as to the real purpose of such a collection, with serious consequences for progress in human genetics.
If the law had been brought into force, Kuwait would have been the first country in the world to require the compulsory collection of human DNA samples from all citizens. The Forensic Genetics Policy Initiative report, ‘Establishing Best Practices for Forensic DNA Databases’, published last week, says: "As countries develop legislation to govern DNA databases, it is important that civil society is engaged in the debate about what safeguards are needed to protect human rights."
We congratulate the Emir of Kuwait and the Constitutional Court on their willingness to listen to those expressing concerns about this, and hope that other countries that may be considering going down the same road will take note of this decision.