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An ethics expert notes that their use by the policy has advantages and disadvantages. (Archive photo)

  • Émile Lapointe (View profile)Émile Lapointe

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After the arrest about a week ago of a Manitoba man in connection with the homicide of a Métis woman several years earlier, the use of genetic data by police the subject of debate between activists and experts.

Last Monday, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) in Manitoba clarified that the National DNA Data Bank played a significant role in the arrest and charging of Kevin Queau in connection with the murder of Crystal Saunders , which occurred in 2007.

According to professor specializing in ethics at the University of Manitoba Arthur Schafer, this case demonstrates that this tool can be very useful in many cases, especially cold cases, but warns that without regulations, it also carries significant risks.

The bank, which is managed by the RCMP, contains just over 650,000 DNA samples from crime scenes. It also contains, among other things, the genetic profiles of people guilty of certain crimes, victims, unidentified human remains and missing persons across Canada.

However, Arthur Schafer notes that questions remain as to what freedom should be granted to the police in their use of this data. Your DNA contains a lot of private information about you, your health and your family, he warns.

The professor also points out that since Aboriginal people are over-represented in the penal system, they also occupy a considerable place in the National DNA Data Bank.

We are therefore faced with this question: will the benefits of using data for indigenous communities, especially for investigations concerning missing women and girls, outweigh the disadvantages? /p>Loading2026 FIFA World Cup: Canada gets 13 matches in total

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Mr. Schafer says their use to solve investigations would potentially provide answers to grieving families or discourage some people from committing crimes.

He warns, however, that supervision is necessary to maximize the advantages and minimize the disadvantages, even if an advisory committee already advises the RCMP in its use of the Bank.

There needs to be monitoring, supervision and the parties involved being held accountable.

During debates on the issue in the Senate in November, the president of the Native Women's Association of Canada, Carol McBride, said she was in favor of giving police more freedom in the use of genetic data.

< p class="StyledBodyHtmlParagraph-sc-48221190-4 hnvfyV">She believes that this would, among other things, allow unsolved cases of murders of indigenous women and girls to be concluded, in addition to allowing people wrongly accused to be exonerated.

We believe there are more pros [than cons], especially considering missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, she said in interview with CBC/Radio-Canada.

The pain [of the families] will not disappear, but their questions would be answered.

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The president of the Native Women's Association of Canada, Carol McBride. (File photo)

A spokesperson for the RCMP, Robin Percival, indicated Friday that the National DNA Data Bank made it possible to x27;obtain 80,875 investigative leads by identifying offenders and 9,007 associations between crime scenes from different police organizations.

Of the 80,875 leads, 5,265 were related to murder investigations.

For her part, a former Information Commissioner and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario, Ann Cavoukian, opposes the RCMP being responsible for the National DNA Data Bank.

It has happened in the past that the RCMP exceeded the limits of its powers, so the use of this tool should be monitored, she said.

I am against this information being accessible to all police organizations and their members, whether a case is warrant-related or not, because this implies that they could access it at any time.

She believes that police officers should need a warrant given by a judge to be able to access the genetic profiles of Canadians. DNA is a very sensitive source of information because it can perfectly identify someone. It must be carefully protected, argues Ann Cavoukian.

People have the ability to preserve their personal information and privacy, they should not x27;forget.

With information from Ozten Shebahkeget

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