The European Court of Human Rights will deliver its Grand Chamber judgment in the case S. and Marper v. United Kingdom at 11 am next Thursday. S. and Marper v. UK is viewed as a test case about whether the UK is breaching human rights by retaining DNA samples and profiles, and fingerprints of unconvicted innocent people. The hearing of this case by is available to watch online. Last week, Vernon Coaker, Home Office minister responded in a Parliamentary debate that 'The [DNA retention] guidelines will need to be reviewed in the light of the outcome of the S and Marper case'.
4 December 2008
The European Court of Human Rights will deliver its Grand Chamber judgment in the case of S. and Marper v. the United Kingdom (application nos. 30562/04 and 30566/04) in a public hearing on Thursday 4 December 2008 at 11 a.m. (local time) in the Human Rights Building, Strasbourg.
The press release and the text of the judgment will be available after the hearing on the Court’s Internet site (http://www.echr.coe.int).
S. and Marper v. the United Kingdom
The applicants S. and Michael Marper, were born in 1989 and 1963. They are both British nationals who live in Sheffield (the United Kingdom).
The case concerns the retention by the authorities of the applicants’ fingerprints, cellular samples and DNA profiles after criminal proceedings against them were terminated by an acquittal or were discontinued.
On 19 January 2001 S. was arrested and charged with attempted robbery. His fingerprints and DNA samples were taken. He was acquitted on 14 June 2001. Mr Marper was arrested on 13 March 2001, charged with harassing his partner. His fingerprints and DNA samples were also taken. The charges were dropped following reconciliation with his partner and the case against him was discontinued on 14 June 2001.
Both applicants unsuccessfully requested that their fingerprints, DNA samples and profiles be destroyed.
The applicants complain about the retention of their fingerprints, DNA samples and profiles after an acquittal or discontinuance of criminal proceedings. They are concerned in particular about possible current and future uses of those data. They further contend that the retention casts suspicion on people who have been acquitted or discharged of crimes and that they should be treated in the same way as the rest of the unconvicted population. They rely on Articles 8 (right to respect for private life) and 14 (prohibition of discrimination) of the European Convention on Human Rights.
The applications were lodged with the European Court of Human Rights on 16 August 2004 and declared admissible on 16 January 2007. The Chamber to which the case was assigned decided to relinquish jurisdiction to the Grand Chamber on 10 July 20071. The Grand Chamber held a public hearing in the case on 27 February 2008.
The European Court of Human Rights was set up in Strasbourg by the Council of Europe Member States in 1959 to deal with alleged violations of the 1950 European Convention on Human Rights.
1 Under Article 30 of the Convention, where a case pending before a Chamber raises a serious question affecting the interpretation of the Convention or the protocols thereto, or where the resolution of a question before the Chamber might have a result inconsistent with a judgment previously delivered by the Court, the Chamber may, at any time before it has rendered its judgment, relinquish jurisdiction in favour of the Grand Chamber, unless one of the parties to the case objects.