Sunday, November 01, 2009

What Magna Carta?

The New Zealand has enacted a law that will allow the police to collect DNA samples from anyone arrested for a crime that could lead to a jail sentence. The arrested person has no say in this and a warrant is not required. If the person is ultimately found not guilty, we’re promised that the samples will be destroyed, which actually isn’t at all reassuring.

Predictably there’s been the chorus of “if you’re not doing anything wrong, you’ve got no reason to complain,” but this goes against nearly a millennium of common law stretching all the way back to Magna Carta. There should be probable cause and warrant from a judge, just as there is for other searches. This law change is the reason the phrase “slippery slope” exists.

The other day on TVNZ’s “Breakfast”, the ever-moronic Pippa Wetzell dismissed this as if her opinion were fact. Perhaps she might want to learn something about the issue—and the history of our system of rights and legal privileges—before pontificating on something she clearly knows nothing about.

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