Singapore: DNA-testing Mistake

In January 2012, the Singapore Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC) issued a media release acknowledging the occurence of faulty DNA-testing at the Health Sciences Authority. This has led to public debate on post-conviction DNA-testing. While the governmental agencies involved have proactively taken steps to address this mistake, this incident highlights the need for independent post-conviction review procedures. Mistakes, even when unintentional or minor, can have substantial impact. Over 400 cases had to be reviewed in this instance. The mistake took place between October 2010 and August 2011, the AGC was informed of this in September 2011, and the media release was published in January 2012. Having a formal and transparent post-conviction review procedure, as opposed to responding to individual cases on an ad hoc basis,  will ensure a more prompt and thorough processing of cases. More importantly, while the public’s confidence in Singapore’s criminal justice system remains generally high, this incident demonstrates the very real possibility of human mistakes. Some mistakes may only emerge after time, such as those brought to light by new factual discoveries and scientific developments.  There is a need for accessible avenues where possible cases of wrongful conviction are raised and addressed.


ST The case for post-con DNA testing

4 responses to “Singapore: DNA-testing Mistake

  1. Interesting…what was the mistake that they disovered Wui Ling? Was it that they were saying there was a DNA match when in fact there was no match?

  2. The concentration level of the DNA reagent used was too high. The AGC explained that this resulted in DNA tests which were less sensitive in detecting profiles.

  3. So they were saying “no dna here” in cases where there actually was DNA. Makes you wonder how much that happens in the U.S. and other places. I hadn’t heard of that problem before.

  4. Yes. The identified danger was that small amounts of DNA present may not have been detected. Definitely better than the problem of identifying a profile when there was none. But one could imagine, depending on the facts of the case, that the undetected DNA (not of the accused) could reveal the involvement of someone else.

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