May 26, 2024

Argentina will force children of “desaparecidos” to take DNA test

Under pressure from Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo

DNA testing of Los Desaparecidos ordered in ArgentinaThe Argentine
government has authorised courts to order DNA samples to be taken
from people to establish their identity, even though they are not
suspected of any wrong-doing. The decision comes after years of
lobbying by the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo, who want to find
grandchildren who may have been adopted illegally by members of the
military or police during Argentina’s “dirty war” on leftist
militants in the 1970s.

new law legalizes the extraction of “minimal amounts of blood,
saliva, skin, hair or other biological samples” to establish a
person’s biological identity. If a person refuses, a judge can issue
a warrant for genetic material from a hairbrush, toothbrush, clothing
or other objects.

Not everyone wants
to cooperate. “If an adult doesn’t want to know his origins, you
have to respect it,” says Julio Strassera, a former prosecutor
who put top military leaders on trial. But others say that people
must know their true identities. “The state cannot leave in the
hands of a young person, raised by a member of the military,
manipulated by guilt, the decision of whether or not to learn his
true identity,” Horacio Pietragalla told Associated Press. He
learned in 2003 that he had been taken as a baby from his biological
mother. Under the new law, the state “tells you the truth. After
that, you have to decide what you want to do with that truth,”
he said.

The fate of the
“desaparecidos”, the one who have disappeared, and their
children, has been a bitter and highly emotional issue in Argentina
for years. The Argentine government estimates about 13,000 people
died in a crackdown on urban guerillas, although the grandmothers
claim that the it could be as many as 30,000. ~ AP,
Nov 20

Michael Cook
DNA tests
informed consent