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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Fichés dès le berceau ?

by Fanny Doumayrou

France’s DNA File: On Record From an Early Age

Translated Sunday 13 May 2007, by Claire Scammell

Children are not spared in the madness surrounding public security.

In the North of the country, two brothers aged eight and eleven years have narrowly escaped a DNA sampling which would have seen them listed on France’s computerised file of genetic data, FNAEG (Fichier National Automatisé des empreintes génétiques), for forty years. As for their terrible crime, these children merely stole four toys from a supermarket. An officer of the Judicial Police had threatened them with a DNA swab at the time but after strong protest against this “scandalous” suggestion from the parents, it was finally dropped.

In any case, the exposure of the episode by the French daily Le Parisien has served as a reminder of the absurdity of the law, which states that the data of any offender, regardless of their age or the severity of their offence, can be stored on this file. Worse still is the fact that no distinction is made between those offenders sentenced for their crime and those who are merely suspected, opening the door to all kinds of injustices.

Created in 1998 for sex offenders, the scope of the file has been gradually widened to include perpetrators of torture and terrorism or violent acts, then to thefts, criminal damage, tagging and the uprooting of GM crops. Anyone who refuses to submit to being put on file incurs six months of imprisonment and a fine of 7500 euros! The father of the two boys, shaken by his misfortune, has expressed his hope that as a result of the incident, there will be some reflection before decisions are made to put individuals on file in the future.

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