Knesset Advances Bill to Preserve DNA Samples From Victims of Sexual Assault

51 lawmakers from the opposition voted against the bill, which would mandate the preservation of DNA samples taken from victims of sex crimes for an unlimited time

Bar Peleg
Bar Peleg
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הפגנה אישום ירין שרף  תומר אפלבאום
Credit: Tomer Appelbaum
Bar Peleg
Bar Peleg

The Knesset on Wednesday gave initial approval to a bill mandating the preservation of DNA samples taken from victims of sex crimes for an unlimited period of time. Sixty-four MKs supported the bill and 51 – all from the opposition – opposed it.

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The draft bill would organize the manner of preserving samples taken from victims of sexual assault, for the purpose of future identification of the attacker. According to the proposal, all the samples taken would be transferred to the Abu Kabir Institute of Forensic Medicine to extract DNA, and would be preserved there with no time limit for the purpose of future investigative and legal procedures.

Currently, if no complaint is lodged with the police within three months from the date the sample was taken, it is destroyed. The bill also states that kits for taking the sample will be available in all hospitals; at present only five hospitals have the kits.

According to the bill’s explanation, “The law today permits filing a complaint for a sex crime years after it was committed and in the case of sex crimes against minors, even dozens of years later. Therefore, preserving the samples without any time limit will only help to create a fair entitlement mechanism for the victims when they file a future complaint.”

The bill’s initiator, MK Merav Ben Ari of Yesh Atid, said after the vote, “The conduct of the opposition in the vote today was a big disgrace for the Knesset – with political considerations taking precedence over victims of sexual assault. Although the law passed by a large majority, the disgrace will remain here for a long time to come.” Later she wrote on her Twitter account: “I passed 14 laws in the 20th Knesset, I’ve never had such an incident before.” MKs from the Joint List voted in favor of the bill.

While Ben Ari was speaking in the plenum, MK Yoav Kish of Likud called out to her: “It’s impossible to do anything with you people, you violate every agreement in this house. You have no shame. I’m telling you clearly: If there were a coalition here that didn’t trample us on everything, including on committees, there would be something to discuss. This way you won’t get any cooperation.”

The protest of opposition members stems from the composition of the Knesset committees which they say do not reflect the balance of powers in the Knesset.

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