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Tanzania: New Law on Human DNA

(Apr. 29, 2009) Tanzania's National Assembly passed a bill on April 22, 2009, that will make it possible to administer and regulate application of DNA technology in the country. According to David Msakyusa, the Minister for Health and Social Welfare, the Human DNA Law will make it possible for the government to control existing institutions that use DNA. “It is now important that [a] good control mechanism is put in place to avoid any possible misuse of the technology by some crooked people. … The law would manage the collection, storage, transportation and testing of DNA specimen[s] in conformity to ethics and the law of the land,” he stated. (Leonard Mawakalebela, Parliament Passes Human DNA Bill 2009, DAR ES SALAAM DAILY NEWS, Apr. 24, 2009, available at

The Law was enacted following complaints from members of the public, who said that members of their family were being wrongly charged with major crimes or that children were mistakenly switched at hospitals. DNA evidence could be used to avoid or limit the extent of these problems, as well as in the identification of victims of accidents and natural disasters. Other critics have charged that prisoners have been forced to provide samples, including sperm, saliva, or sweat; the law has provisions on that issue as well. (Id.)

The Law empowers the Chief Chemist's Office to create a national DNA database to keep records. The Office will also issue licenses and regulate those owning and operating DNA labs. (Id.)