18 Nov, Parliament – Final Stages of Phase 1 of the Bill

Today I find myself in Committee Room 3 in Parliament. The Portfolio Committee for Police (PCP) are moving ahead rapidly on Phase 1 of the Bill, which relates to Fingerprints and the integration of the various Fingerprint Databases in SA. It seems as if they have allocated 1 April 2010 as the date on which they would like to see this phase of the Bill commencing.

They want a set of regulations to be drafted in conjunction with this phase of this Bill, which  will regulate the way in which the integration of the various fingerprint databases will be managed. The final draft of Phase 1 of the Bill will be available within this week, and I shall include a copy of same on the website for all to view and comment on.

This means that the DNA section of the Bill, officially now known as ‘Phase 2 of the Bill’, should start being¬† reviewed by the PCP in late January 2010. I have heard, but it is yet to be confirmed, that the PCP may conduct an overseas trip to another country with an established DNA Database, possibly in early January 2010. I hope that this is the case, as it will certainly provide the PCP with a broad and informative overview of how successful an expanded and well regulated DNA Database is utilised as a tool for crime prevention, resolution and ultimately, deterrence. It will hopefully also illustrate that we are not trying to reinvent the wheel in SA with this Bill, and that we can learn from other administrations which have already undergone similair legislative changes and implementation processes.

The PCP ended proceedings with just about every member of the PCP, commending the Chairperson of the PCP, Ms Chikunga, with the exemplary way in which she has managed and lead these proceedings to date. I agree with their sentiments, as this PCP have kept to their schedule, enforced proper and full presentation of information and have not tolerated tardy nor shoddy representations by other Government departments who have appeared before this Committee in respect of this Bill. I will also say that the attendance quota of this Committee has been very high, certainly in comparison to the previous ad hoc Committee which reviewed this Bill. They have also maintained a keen interest in this Bill, shown that they have and are carefully considering each aspect of the Bill and that they all do recognise how valuable this Bill is in the fight against crime in SA.

This was the last PCP meeting of this Parliamentary Session. The next meeting will be in January, and of course, if you are watching this space, I will be here …

Vanessa

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