In 2017, Kuwait revoked the world’s first law requiring all citizens and visitors to submit samples of their DNA. Passed in 2015, the law was soundly defeated by the Kuwaiti lawyers. The country’s Constitutional Court ruled that the law violated the constitution’s guarantee of personal liberty. As the European Society of Human Genetics rightly observed:
“If the law had been brought into force, Kuwait would have been the first country in the world to require the compulsory collection of DNA samples from all citizens…“[We] hope that other countries considering going down the same road will take note of this decision.”
Enter General Paul Kagame, who is ready to make Rwanda the first country in the world to require the compulsory collection of DNA samples from all 12 million citizens. Kagame has, in other words, figured out how to make his Rwandan totalitarian state even more totalitarian in order to control all aspects of Rwandan lives. Kagame is following Kuwait’s failed scheme of creating a nationwide DNA database. The purpose of this exercise, according to the Kagame regime, is to crack down on crime. Interestingly, Rwanda is said to be “the second safest place in Africa.”
Here is a problem. DNA data reveals a broad range of intimate medical and genetic details. Such data in the hands of a totalitarian dictatorship is catastrophic. Very simply, these large sets of data in Kagame’s hands will be used for repression . The DNA data on all 12 million Rwandans will allow the Kagame regime to identify and profile any individuals or groups in society that Kagame wants to control or harm.
Will Rwandan lawyers follow the example of their Kuwaiti counterparts and defeat Kagame’s DNA scheme? Very unlikely. Nobody opposes Kagame inside Rwanda and stay out of prison, exile, or even escape death.