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Archived - Harper Government follows through on commitment to establish DNA-based Missing Persons Index
October 27, 2014 – Ottawa – Public Safety Canada
The Government of Canada has taken action to fulfill an Economic Action Plan 2014 commitment by introducing legislation that will enable the creation of a DNA-based Missing Persons Index (MPI). The MPI will be one of five new indices created in the RCMP's National DNA Data Bank. These indices will be valuable new tools for investigating missing persons, unidentified remains and criminal cases, and will supplement the work currently undertaken by the National Centre for Missing Persons and Unidentified Remains (NCMPUR).
In Economic Action Plan 2014, the Government of Canada committed $8.1 million to create a DNA-based Missing Persons Index aimed at helping coroners, medical examiners and police investigate cases of missing persons and unidentified remains.
The legislation introduced as part of the Government's Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2 includes important safeguards to ensure that the privacy rights of Canadians are respected.
Judy Peterson, the mother of Lindsey Nicholls who disappeared in 1993, has been a tireless advocate for the creation of a DNA-based Missing Persons Index, petitioning for the passage of legislation that has come to be known as “Lindsey's Law.”
- In Canada, using DNA for national identification purposes is strictly governed by provisions in the DNA Identification Act, which only permits DNA use for criminal justice purposes. Changes to the Act are required in order to establish a new humanitarian application of the National DNA Data Bank (NDDB) to support missing persons and unidentified human remains investigations, as well as to strengthen the current criminal application of the NDDB.
- The legislative changes proposed in Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2 will enable the creation of new DNA-based indices containing DNA profiles from missing persons, human remains and relatives or other individuals whose DNA maybe be valuable in locating missing persons or identifying human remains.
- The Government laid the groundwork for this expanded use of DNA analysis in Budget 2010, when it provided funding to establish the National Centre for Missing Persons and Unidentified Remains (NCMPUR). Funds committed in Economic Action Plan 2014 will enable the NCMPUR to enhance its role of providing national coordinated support to police investigators, medical examiners and coroners.
“Our Government is taking action to provide law enforcement, coroners and medical examiners with new tools to solve missing persons cases, where traditional techniques have not been successful. These resources will enable the creation of three new humanitarian indices within the National DNA Data Bank, which will be available to investigators across the country. It is our sincere hope that these new measures will ultimately help lead to a sense of closure for the families of missing persons. Our Government will continue to support victims of crime and their families.”
– The Honourable Steven Blaney, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness
“The creation of a Missing Persons & Unidentified Human Remains DNA Index (Lindsey's Law) will enable police to use existing technology to compare missing persons with unidentified human remains across the country and, potentially, internationally. It will provide police and coroners with the ability to offer greater closure in missing person cases and provide reassurance to families of missing persons that police are using all of the available technologies in an effort to find a missing person.”
– Chief Clive Weighill, President of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police
“It's been a very long emotional journey, but I am absolutely thrilled with this crucial legislation – Lindsey's Law. Desperately searching families will finally have the comfort of knowing that if our missing loved one's remains are found anywhere in Canada, they can be identified. This closes a gaping hole in DNA legislation and also provides important tools for coroners and police.”
– Judy Peterson, Mother of Lindsey Nicholls
- Backgrounder – New tools to support missing persons and criminal investigations
- Backgrounder – Protecting privacy rights
- National DNA Data Bank
- National Centre for Missing persons and Unidentified Remains
- Economic Action Plan 2014
Office of the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness
Public Safety Canada
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