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Al Jazeera Video: Argentina's Strange New DNA Law

November 27th, 2009 | Categoría: Politics

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Al Jazeera does it again, this time taking a look at Argentina's oddest new law.

The law could force hundreds of people to give DNA sa

mples in a bid to find out who their real parents were and if they were kidnapped during the Dirty War.

The law raises profound ethical questions and shows how, three decades later, Argentina is still trying to deal with its past.

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11 Comments

There’s nothing weird about the law. It says a court can order DNA seizures. They can do that on every country.

Is the unusual part that it can be ordered from people not accused of anything to decide if they are related to another person? That happens too!

Courts in the US have taken DNA samples of people not accused of anything (like grandparents) to decide who is the father of a child, if said father is not available.

Is it the DNA bank that’s weird? In the UK there is a huge DNA bank of anyone ever charged with anything, and the police can check evidence against it, while this DNA bank is closed to the police so it’s less damaging to people’s rights.

So, really, what *is* so weird? It is perhaps peculiar in that there are not many countries where there was such a number of illegal, forced child appropiations. A special circunstance, a special law. Happens all the time, everywhere.

Fede says:

I don´t think its quite the same Roberto. Court ordered DNA samples to decide who is the father of a child is acceptable because being a father or relative implies responsibilities (like for example alimony, or for the custody of a minor), and dodging this responsibilities is illegal, thus the DNA sampling is justified,

That its not the case here, the person who´s DNA is compulsory extracted is not involved in any crime of any kind neither directly nor indirectly, he or she are not minors and are in their full capacities to decide whether they want or not to know who their birth parents are. This are innocent persons, not charged with any crimes being forced to do something they don´t want to, and having their privacy invaded. I hope this law is never enforced.

The point is not to charge *them* with any crime, but the ones who kidnapped them from their families.

Imagine someone kidnapped your son and killed you. Then, 30 years later, your mom finds out the kidnapper gave him in adoption, and finds him.

You are saying your mother can’t know if that’s his grandson, and that just because his adoptive parents have been nice to him his birth family has no right to know him.

That’s screwy. In other countries, it would be a far fetched case. Here, it happened, many times, and there has to be a way to make things right.

Putting the privacy rights of a person above the right of a family to know the ultimate fate of their sons and grandsons, above knowing even if they are dead or alive, is wrong, is very wrong.

Federico says:

I disagree completly. Individual rights are the foundation of our constitution and our liberty, they are what protect us from fascisms and totalitarisms. There is no such a thing as the right of “identity” (more likely the right of other to set your “identity”), or the right to truth (however you define it), and certainly the right of the supposed family or “society” is in no way above the individual rights of a free, inocent individual.

If i ever was in such a terrible situation, 30 years later, being my supposed son or daugther a full grown man or woman, i would try to convice them to submit volutarialy to a DNA test. Forcing them by a shady law to take the test agaisnt they will seem counter productive, what would i gain by knowing their “birth identity” and at the same time earning their ethernal hatred?

There is a right to property, and then there are taxes.
There is a right to free transit, and there are tollbooths and fences.
There is a right to free association, and there is the crime of illicit association.
There is a right to vote, and there is a law that says you only vote once, and only in some elections.
There is a right to play music, and there are nuisance laws.
There is a right to run for president, and there is a law that says you can only do it after you are 30.

Saying “I have a right” and thinking that ends any discussion is facile, and not really much of an argument.

There is always a balance between different rights. Yes, there is a right not to have DNA testing done to you. There is also a right to know what happened to your grandson who was kidnapped as a baby, because THAT IS A FREAKING CRIME, and taking your DNA is part of the investigation of said crime, and some times the only possible conclusive way to determine the fate of the kidnapped.

There is a right to define your own identity, but there is also a right to know if your grandson is alive or was killed BECAUSE KILLING HIM WOULD HAVE BEEN A CRIME, and there is a duty to investigate it!

The laws are made to determine the balance of those rights. Sometimes someone has to give up one of his rights so the rights of others can be upheld, or so someone is punished by a crime, or many other things nations decide are more important, in that specific time, than the right of a specific person in a specific circumstance.

Let’s make a thought experiment. Suppose someone kidnapped your baby daughter, then passed her as her own. He then is a loving parent for 30 years.

You find her, but have no proof she is who you say she is, except some documentary evidence. You would be against a DNA test of (yes) a perfectly innocent person, not accused of any crime? Even if said DNA test was only possible with a court order? Even if said DNA would not be available for any other purpose except proving you are her father?

Only her right to protect her “dad” matters? Ok, if you say so, I will believe you are the most self-sacrificing person ever. However, I disagree with you.

OTOH, yes, there is a right to identity, and is in the constitution (international treaties have constitutional level, look it up).

[…] de Mayo , will take place this year on Saturday, December 5th . The celebration, which ever… Al Jazeera Video: Argentina’s Strange New DNA Law[The Argentine Post] Al Jazeera does it again, this time taking a look at Argentina’s oddest […]

Federico says:

Roberto, i am aware that there is a balance of rights. But the rights of the individual come first, specially when we are talking about his or her body and liberty. No right of a supposed family or other third party is above that.

And i allready answer your experiment. If i ever was in such a situation i would try to convince my suspected daughter to submit voluntarialy to the test (like most of the suspected apropriated childs do). If they still refuse i have no other option than to RESPECT THEIR DECITION, and look for others ways to establish the relationship.

In no way ever i would invoque or support a police state that forces her against her will to do something she doesn´t want to., specailly involving something so dear to her as it is her body and her life. Im i a monster for beliven this?

And the “indentity rights” you mentioned are individual rights not societal rights. For example “every child has a right to an identity…”. This of course means every person has the right to voluntarialy seek and know his own indentity, not that other people has the right to know (forcefully) your identity, or force you to give up your identity.

First: please learn to use the “reply” link. That way, I am notified when you post a comment.

Second: No, the rights of the individual don’t always come first. That’s just silly. In almost all the trivial examples I gave you the rights of the individual don’t come first.

Your arguments so far are at the level of putting your fingers in your ears and shout “nanananana”.

Federico says:

When it comes to a persons own body and privacy, yes, individual rights come first.

And the “trivial examples you mentiones” are of course bad examples. A person´s rights end when the right of others begin. So you can have free association but without harming others (like in a crime of illicit association), you can play music, but without excecively bothering others, etc.

You missunderstand, when i say individual right come first is beacuse that is the foundation of our constitution, i never say the rights were absoloute. Property rights are based on the individual being allowed to own property without it being illegitimately taken by another person, or group of persons or the state. Taxation is a legitimate atribution of the state, but even then the state can exceed its own limits and for that is what the constitution is for, to protect the individual rights of the people against the excesses of the state.

This DNA law is a clear excess of the sate in the violation of individual rights, that is, forcing an innocent person to submit against his will to take a blood sample or to have his home raided by the police.

Lest just agree to disagree.
Saludos.

CandelaNo Gravatar says:

Federico, if the person does not want to give blood, then the court can use a tooth brush or whatever is in the house use for the person. Is not compulsive.
The mother of this childrens that now are man and woman were murder, rape and tortured, their bodys were thrown from and air plane in the rio de la plata, most of the times they were alive when this happend.
Solving a crime comes first, this people who ARE NOT they parents kidnapped this kids.
Please, read the testimony of Victoria Donda, she was one of those childs kidnapped by the military, ore plz read about the rest of the found childrens. And you would realized how worng are you.

CmoneyBAGZNo Gravatar says:

Good arguments from all of you. Interesting to read. This can go on forever. Too bad I couldn’t get in on the action.

Peace and Love to God’s People

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