Post written by Jaron Daniël Schoone, MA, and Ms Evelyn Bell, LL.M, of the Knoops Innocence Project in the Netherlands:
This week a new law was enacted in the Netherlands, expanding the investigative capacities of police and prosecutors. (http://www.nu.nl/politiek/2778321/meer-ruimte-in-dna-onderzoek.html) The new law allows for DNA-familial searching in order to solve crimes. This type of DNA analysis can determine whether a blood tie of a person who’s DNA is included in the Dutch DNA database is the perpetrator of the crime. Until now, only profiles that fully matched resulted in a hit in the DNA database.
In the Netherlands only the DNA of suspects of serious crime (i.e. crimes threatened with a sentence of four years imprisonment or more) is stored. If the suspect is acquitted the DNA sample has to be removed from the database, but if the suspect is convicted the DNA remains in the database.
Just a day after the law came into power the news media reported that police and prosecutors were re-opening the investigation on an unsolved rape- and murder case in 1999 with the hopes that DNA-familial searching will solve this case. (http://www.nu.nl/politiek/2778321/meer-ruimte-in-dna-onderzoek.html)
It is our hope that this additional forensic tool will also have the future benefit of exonerating wrongfully convicted persons.