The recent motorway rape case has sparked a debate on the creation of a national DNA database, proponents of it arguing its merits in regards to facilitating convictions—especially in such sensitive cases. While speedy justice is something to look forward to, is it acceptable for the public to forgo alienable rights, like privacy, that are intrinsic for a peaceful life all because a fraction of the population has debauched society’s moral fibre? It is imperative for the authorities to consider the merits and demerits that come along with implementing such a policy.

A DNA database is considerably useful in the context of a crime being committed. DNA from a crime scene can be run through the database to find the suspect instantaneously. This cuts down investigative and trial times, boosts conviction rates and dispenses justice at a faster rate. However, the problem lies in the fact that, through the database, each citizen of the country is considered a suspect until a link is made between two sets of DNA. The constant risk and fear that such surveillance poses is one that not only allows for a paternalistic state, one that casts permanent suspicion upon its people, to be created but also violates freedoms that individuals are entitled to. Even a partial match with the DNA of a perpetrator can drag countless into a criminal investigation and promote false convictions. Thus, any decisive action taken in this regard should be informed and wary of such concerns.

Criminals, by virtue of having violated the rights of others, are stripped of certain liberties, like freedom of movement or the right to vote, as punishment for assuming the state’s monopoly on violence as their own. It is unconstitutional for the masses to be treated with the same standard of respect. In the end, while the DNA database seems like the immediate solution to increased criminal activity, perhaps investing time and effort into refining existing bodies is a prospect worth exploring. A DNA database of criminals can be considered; a national one is handing altogether too much power in the hands of the state.