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Emergency DNA legislation to assist Bali investigation.

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Media Release SENATOR THE HON. CHRISTOPHER ELLISON Minister for Justice and Customs

Senator for Western Australia

E133/02 23 October 2002

Emergency DNA legislation to assist Bali investigation

An emergency amendment to the Crimes Act that passed through the Senate today will help investigators of the Bali bombings speed up the identification of victims, the Minister for Justice and Customs, Senator Chris Ellison said.

The legislation will allow the CrimTrac national DNA database system to be used for disaster victim identification for the Bali tragedy as well as its original purpose for criminal investigations.

“The Australian community expects us to do everything possible to reunite relatives and friends with the victims of the bombings as quickly as possible,” Senator Ellison said.

“The legislation allows State and Territory police services collecting samples from the relatives of those who are missing to share information with the Australian Federal Police through CrimTrac so there is an efficient comparison with DNA profiles taken from the victims of the Bali bombings.

"The legislation also enables the AFP to provide the results of the DNA analysis to relatives of victims."

The identification processes must comply with internationally recognised protocols which require positive scientific identification through data such as DNA, fingerprints or dental records in addition to visual identification. This identification process must be completed before the deceased can be repatriated.

The legislation modifies existing laws so that Commonwealth, State and Territory officials can access the national DNA database for the purpose of identifying a person who died as a result of the bombings in Bali, or to conduct a criminal investigation in relation to the incident.

The legislation also enables the information held on CrimTrac to be disclosed to foreign law enforcement agencies and Interpol.

This will enable disclosure of the identity of residents or citizens of other countries who have been identified by DNA profile matchings undertaken by Australian authorities, as well as assisting overseas law enforcement agencies with their investigations.

“The legislation includes safeguards which ensure a balance between the needs of law enforcement with the privacy of those people involved, including restrictions on access, use and disclosure of information,” Senator Ellison said.

“As this legislation is an emergency measure, there is also a special provision requiring an independent review of its operation.

“These are unusual and tragic circumstances we find ourselves in and the amendments are aimed at expediting the victim identification process to try to alleviate the grief of the families and friends of the victims of the Bali bombings,” Senator Ellison said.

Media inquiries: Mairi Barton. Ph 02/6277 7260 or 0439 300 335