What am I?

There's very lively comment around on the idea of a national DNA database for Britain. Its one of those divisive issues that, on closer inspection, is much less clear-cut than it looks.

 

On the one side libertarians and civil liberties spokespeople dismiss the idea as authoritarian and chilling. On the other, the government sees the merits and is broadly sympathetic.

So far, so predictable. Freedom v Big Brother. A simple fight to stop the authorities taking away our rights.

Except that Stephen Sedley, the judge who sparked this off is actually something of a champion of human rights. He claims that a universal DNA database means you dont get profiling - and, as with the current situation, a disproportionate number of ethnic minorities on the database. In other words, you end up with a level playing field.

Its not an easy debate. Because, again, on the other hand, things like citizen databases could be introduced for an uncontroversial reason - bringing crime down - and end up being used by a future government for tracing and locking up political opponents or particular groups.

Read Conor Geartys through-provoking article on how its best to avoid knee-jerk reactions on these issues - always good advice.

After reading Gearty Id then strongly urge you to send an appeal for a man on death row in Alabama, USA .

Hes due to be executed on 27 September (another horrible appointment with death) and hes desperately trying to get the authorities to do the DNA tests that he insists will prove his innocence.

A man facing death by state-administered lethal injection? DNA tests that might show hes innocent? Surely thats a no-brainer? Nope. The Alabama authorities are refusing. Send an appeal now.

Meanwhile, the Independent has front-paged news that a leading political party in Switzerland has put up posters of patriotic white sheep dealing a physical blow to a nasty black sheep to show how the country is supposedly facing a security risk because of immigration. Theres more than a whiff of racism about this and it seems to be yet more evidence of how the post-9/11 security agenda can be twisted into some very unpleasant shapes.

Finally, back to DNA. Sort of. Being the stuff of life (I may be scientifically imprecise here), DNA is part of the code for genetic make-up, what we are. Check out this video - entitled What Am I?, What Am I?

Its funny, sinister, contains (I think) several expletives and (maybe) some obscene auto-sexual gestures. And its American. As our US friends say, whats not to like?

What Am I? What Am I?

About Amnesty UK Blogs
Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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