Earlier last week, a bomb attack on a mosque in Kuwait killed 27 people and injured more than 220. In response to these attacks, Kuwait’s government has passed a law that makes DNA testing mandatory for all citizens and foreign residents.
The government intends to create a DNA database of an estimated 1.3 million citizens and 2.9 million foreigners in a security crackdown that is meant to help officials arrest criminals. While many countries, including the U.S. and the U.K., store the DNA of convicted criminals, Kuwait will be the first country in the world to store the DNA of their entire population.
The Interior Ministry allocated $400 million to the project, which is likely to be criticized by human rights advocates for infringing upon an individual’s right to privacy. Those who refuse to give samples could face a fine of up to $33,000 and a one year prison sentence. The ministry warns that those who provide fake samples could be jailed for seven years.
A similar database would be illegal in the European Union. In a landmark ruling in 2008, the European Court of Human Rights argued that the UK National DNA Database had to make changes to safeguard privacy and rights. At the time, the database retained the DNA and fingerprints of innocent people whose charges had been dropped. In response to the ruling, the coalition government adopted the UK Protection of Freedoms Bill, which saw 1,766,000 DNA profiles deleted.
“We have approved the DNA testing law and approved the additional funding,” said independent MP Jamal al-Omar, the Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported. “We are prepared to approve anything needed to boost security measures in the country.”