Kuwait is about to become the first country in the world to introduce mandatory DNA testing for everyone.
The Middle Eastern country passed the law, which will see every resident and visitor giving the government a sample of their DNA, in July 2015. Testing is due to start within the next few weeks as part of the passport renewal process for Kuwaiti citizens.
The government in Kuwait has said it is introducing the tests as part of measures to tackle terrorism after a bomb killed 27 people at a mosque in Kuwait in June last year.
From November, those living in Kuwait will have to give a sample of their DNA to get a passport. And those visiting the country will be required to take a swab test when they arrive.
There have been concerns that the DNA database could be misused and used for other purposes. Committing adultery is a criminal offence in Kuwait so some opponents to the law have raised fears that the samples could be used for paternity tests to uncover extramarital affairs.
However, the Kuwait government has insisted that the DNA will not be used to investigate family relationships.
DNA Legislation has some opponents
A group of lawyers from the Kuwaiti law firm Adel AbdulHadi and Partners has now launched a legal challenge to the legislation, claiming it is a human rights violation.
Adel AbdulHadi told New Scientist: “Compelling every citizen, resident and visitor to submit a DNA sample to the government is similar to forcing house searches without a warrant.”
He claims that some samples have already been collected from people who are suspected of making a false claim of Kuwaiti nationality.
In the UK, most DNA testing is voluntary and used to establish paternity or other biological relationships. However, there are circumstances in which DNA samples are collected under UK law, without the individual’s permission.
This includes when someone has been arrested on suspicion of committing a crime. Police officers are allowed to take DNA samples and fingerprints from suspects, which are then stored in a national database which is checked as part of criminal investigations.
AlphaBiolabs also carries out immigration DNA testing, which can be used to prove someone is biologically related to a British citizen to support an application to live in the UK.